Online Safety: 4 Ways to Protect your Kids

I don’t think anyone could argue with the fact that technology has totally changed our world. When I was a kid, a floppy disk was a big, literally floppy, black square and it could take up to 20 minutes to load a file. I had to flip through an old encyclopedia for research and ended up printing my reports on a dot matrix printer with tractor feed paper. I remember video games such as Pac Man, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong. Yeah…that dates me.

As technology has taken on warp speed, the education world has changed as well. Through the Internet, my kids have a wealth of information at their fingertips. In the classroom, their teachers often use ipads with learning and educational programs on them. Even much of their homework assignments are done online. Because of this technology, my children have been offered opportunities like never before. But with all the good on the Internet, there are dangers as well.

4 Steps to Online Safety for Kids

online safetyI’m sure every parent can think of things they do not want their children to “come across” when on the Internet. Here are some ways to keep kids safe while online.

Step 1- Decide Where Your Kids Can and Can’t Go on the Internet— Be aware of the sites that your children are using. If these sites require personal information, make sure that it is something you approve. If not, there are ways to block certain sites that you deem inappropriate. There are many content filters out there that will allow you to control what you do or do not allow your children to see. Most of these are controlled with a password.

Step 2- Increase Your Security and Privacy— Make sure you have anti-virus and firewall protection and that you keep it updated. This will prevent your children from downloading something harmful to your computer. You can also set limits on the number or type of downloads you allow.

Step 3- Monitor Where Your Kids Go Online— Make sure you are aware of what your kids are doing online. Check their browser history. Read their facebook page.  Another good idea is to have the family computer in a room that is open and occupied (for example a family room instead of a bedroom).

Step 4- Remind Kids Not to Talk to Strangers— Parents are used to having the “Stranger-Danger” talk with their children, but it is important to include online interaction. Social media and real-live chat rooms are fun ways to stay connected to friends, but children need to be cautious about providing personal information, especially to a person they don’t know. Internet predators are real and children might not be able to recognize the danger.

The Internet can be a very useful tool for both the education and entertainment of children. Open communication is the key. By taking the necessary steps, you can ensure that your kids will stay safe while surfing the net.

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