How to keep your kids safer online
The power of high-speed Internet is a great opportunity for the next generation – kids can practice a second language, visit exotic locations and read classic poetry with a few flicks of the scroll wheel. This portal to the outside world, however, is not without its disadvantages. Be sure to communicate proper online behavior to your children. A few conversations about staying safe online will also help protect your home and belonging from potential threats from the Internet. Use the following strategies to make sure your children stay safe online and enjoy everything positive that a high-speed Internet connection has to offer.
"Make sure the family's computer is located in a public space."
Set some ground rules
The first step in making sure your kids stay safe online is to establish some ground rules, both for yourself and for you children. As a parent, you'll have to commit yourself to staying involved with your kid's online activity. Ask about what types of sites they are visiting, what kind of contact they're having with other users and how long they spend online. Likewise, make sure the family's computer is situated in a public location to make it easier to spot suspicious activity on your child's screen.
Be sure to set parameters for your child as well. KidsHealth emphasized that parents forbid their kids from visiting online chat rooms that are frequently stalking grounds for sexual predators. Ask your kid to bookmark all of their favorite pages so you can get a better feel for where they spend their time online. It may also be helpful to forbid computer use after a certain time to prevent your kids from surfing the web all night.
Keep your eye out for warning signs
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there are several red flags that should put parents on immediate alert about the safety of their child online. If parents notice children receiving gifts from unknown strangers, for example, they would do well to intercept the package and either talk to their kids about the issue or investigate their child's activity on the computer for themselves.
Using credit cards to purchase items online is simpler than ever. That's why parents should always consider their children when new, unauthorized purchases appear on their credit card bills. Signs that your child is in some sort of trouble on the Internet may not be so obvious, however. Consider sitting down with your kid to talk about their online activity anytime you notice them become more withdrawn from the family.
Talk about social media
Don't forget to talk about social media with your kids – these websites can be used by those with criminal intentions to collect private about your home and your family. Data collected by the Journal of Adolescent Health said that 65 percent of online predators use social media to learn the location of a victim's home or school. Several police departments across the United States have also warned that more thieves are using social media to plan their home invasions.
Make sure that your kids know not to post personal information on their Twitter, Facebook timeline or Tumblr page. Information like vacation dates or family events, for instance, could be interpreted by a robber as a window to plan a breaking and entering. Kids can't know about these dangers dangers unless you warn them, so make sure to keep your children well aware of what they can and can't do online. In worst case scenarios, consider installing parental controls on your computer that limit where your child can travel on the Internet.