Kids Online Safety
Today’s kids may be computer savvy, but that doesn’t necessarily make them people savvy; especially when those people’s true identity can be easily hidden in cyberspace. Kids need to develop mature judgment in every area particularly when it comes to the Internet. That’s why parental guidance is so important when it comes to kids using computers.
Talk to Your Kids About Online Activities
If you aren’t familiar with what your kids do online, it’s time to find out. Spend some time talking about what they like to do when they’re on the computer. Do they enjoy playing a particular game? Ask them to show you the game and how it’s played. Do they frequent social networking sites? Find out which ones and learn how they work. They could even help you set up your own accounts so you can participate too. Wouldn’t it be fun to be the cool mom who plays RuneScape?
Strategies for Keeping Kids Safe
It’s never too late—or too early— to lay down some rules about computer use in your home. Start by restricting computer usage to publicly visible areas, such as the kitchen or the family room. Since kids can close their bedroom doors, bedrooms aren’t safe places for computers. The same goes for online mobile devices. Directly checking on what your children are doing can eliminate a lot of dangers.
Teach young children not to download anything or open any email attachments without your permission. Viruses are lurking everywhere, and although even the wisest adult can still get zapped, you can help your kids avoid many of them.
Make a rule not to give out personal information online. No addresses, no school names, no full names or birth dates—nada, zip, zero. Explain that you can’t always tell who you’re talking to when you’re online, and that information you think is private can show up somewhere else.
Know your kids’ passwords that they use to access their email and social networking sites. You need the ability to log in and see what they are doing.
Put time limits on computer usage. Not only will this help keep kids out of online places they shouldn’t be, it will also force them to come up with other activities. They might even get up and move around a little, or do something completely different–like actually play outside. Setting limits for your kids helps them learn self-discipline.
Parental Control Software
You can install software on your computer that controls your children’s computer usage. Parental control software works in several different ways. Many programs include multiple approaches.
Automatic shutdown software does just what it says—it automatically shuts down the computer at times programmed by the parents. It might be at bedtime, or during homework time, or any other time. One beauty of this system is that it allows you to enforce limits even if you’re stuck at work or running an errand.
Monitoring software allows parents to directly observe computer usage. Depending on the package and settings, you could view emails, chat logs, sites visited, and anything else your child says or does online. Some software packages detect questionable material your child views and sends an email informing you about it.
Filters can be set to restrict access to certain sites, or to sites containing certain words you don’t want your kids reading about. Filters aren’t foolproof, and neither are other methods. But they can go a long way toward protecting your family when they’re online.
Author: Toni Alvarez is a mother of 3 and a computer tech who writes for broadbandcomparison.org, a site where you can find broadband and phone packages and consider the best broadband solutions for your business or personal needs.