Children today are among the first in the world to learn the importance of Internet safety right alongside “stranger danger” and other childhood cautions. For that reason, some parents may not have the tools or framework necessary for demonstrating how to use the Web in a safe and responsible way.
Not only is there content on the Internet that isn’t appropriate for children, but there are viruses and other things that can be downright dangerous for your home computer. Being proactive about these issues can help keep your kids away from anything they shouldn’t see as well as keep your PC safe from harm.
Talk it out
The first step in making sure your children are responsible with the Internet is to explain the potential hazards. According to Internet Safety by McAfee, ask your kids about what they like to do online and touch on any issues that could arise.
“Ask your kids about what they like to do online.”
For example, if your child likes to play video games on the Internet or with an online server, there are several areas of concern. Be sure they understand the importance of never giving out sensitive information and instruct them to never download plug-ins or other software without asking a parent. This will keep your computer safe from malware and other issues.
These games also have online chat features that may put your children in contact with unknown people through the Web. Either instruct them to not use this feature or help them understand the importance of avoiding malicious or dangerous behavior.
The National Children’s Advocacy Center stated that for families with younger kids, it is wise to explore the Internet together. Your child may not know how to use the computer safely, and when it comes to browsing the Web, they could stumble into some unsightly areas.
Help them to understand the basic functions of the computer, especially when it comes to error reports or a crashed Web browser. Otherwise they may exacerbate a problem if it arises, which can damage your PC. When surfing the Internet, show them how to find sites they like or that may be appropriate for them, and talk about the dangers of sharing personal information and other such hazards. Many kids may accidently end up in a bad spot online, so giving them the tools to avoid this situation is important.
Set up parental blocks
Another easy way to protect your family from dangerous or inappropriate content online is to monitor or restrict Internet use. There are a number of different built-in or purchasable resources that make it possible to keep your kids away from unwanted areas of the Web. Contact your Internet service provider for specific information for setting up parental guides for your computer. Internet Safety reported that these tools can limit the amount of time your children spend on the Internet, restrict access to certain web pages and keep an eye on what sort of sites they are visiting.
Don’t forget about mobile
One of the easiest places to overlook when it comes to protecting your children from inappropriate or unsafe online content is a smartphone. Many teens may opt to browse the Web on an iPhone or tablet in place of a standard PC, but the same rules for staying safe still apply.
Consider using similar software to monitor what your children are doing on their phones, but at the very least be sure to touch base and discuss the importance of making good choices online. From gaming apps to using social media, talk to your kids about the risks that they may face.