Online Safety for Children

Little girl on potty with lavatory paper.

There is no question parents want their children safe online, but in the dynamic world of the internet, many parents aren’t even sure what the dangers are much less how to protect their children from them. You don’t have to know every possible problem online to help keep your child safe, you simply need to establish a framework of expectations and teach your child what she needs to be doing to keep her presence online as discreet and safe as possible.

Internet Safety

Regardless of the sites visited, there are certain rules and expectations you should set with your child. Learn what sites she’d like to visit and visit each site yourself to see what is involved. Make a list of appropriate sites and activities and install parental controls to block questionable material or use passwords to ensure your guidelines are being met. Finally, monitor your child’s activities and various profiles to ensure she is as safe as possible.

Social Websites

Children younger than high school have little need to be on social websites, and high school involvement is questionable. Ask your child what social websites she’d like to visit and take time to set up a profile yourself and monitor what sort of traffic is on the site. Demand access to your child’s profile and log in periodically or view the profile as a visitor to be sure she isn’t positing questionable material. Privacy is one matter, but safety is more important than injured dignity.

Online Information

Children are almost always apt to include more personal information online than is strictly necessary. Teach your child to include the absolute minimum amount of information and to use logos and avatars rather than pictures that might let others identify her.

Encourage her to create a screen name or use only a nickname rather than her real name. There is hardly ever a reason to use first and last name, so she should limit any means of identification online including her name, age, school, extracurricular activities, friend’s names, address, or town.

Monitor Usage

The internet is an excellent source of information, but time online should be limited to a reasonable amount. Set limits for free time on the computer as you would the television or video games. Encourage your children to find other activities that move their bodies in addition to their minds.

While your child is away on other tasks, check the temporary files and recent history to check what sites she’s visited. Use a firewall and tracking software to ensure she has few opportunities to get herself into trouble – even accidentally.

Protect Yourself

Children are often the focus of ad campaigns online, so most pop-ups and advertisements are geared at young people. When your child clicks on one, she may inadvertently download a virus or other malware. Invest in good virus protection software and teach your child to avoid malicious websites and pop-ups. If you child uses email, be sure all attachments are scanned or make it a rule that she must have permission before she opens an attachment on her computer.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: