Keeping kids safe on the Web

The Internet is a wonderful way for children to learn about the world, to be entertained, and to communicate with friends and family. But it can also bring risks, exposing young minds to inappropriate content and strangers who may not always have the best intentions.

For concerned parents, itís no longer possible to keep our kids away from computers and pretend the Internet doesnít exist. Instead, we need to properly prepare them for a digital future and coach them so they can make the right decisions. That means understanding our childrenís online activities and developing rules and guidelines that both the parent and child can embrace.

Here are 5 tips for providing a safe and secure environment for those first few years online:

  • Be informed. Find out what your child likes to do on the Web, which sites he likes to visit, and which games he plays. Spend time together online and show an interest in what heís doing.

  • Start a dialogue. Talk to your child about online safety and be specific about your concerns. Let him know there are safe and unsafe web sites, just as there are safe and unsafe places to go in the real world. Talk about the importance of resisting contact with people he doesnít know, and immediately telling you about anything that makes him uncomfortable.

  • Protect personal information. Teach your child to respect personal information, both his own and other peopleís. Teach him never to share passwords, phone numbers, addresses, or other personal information, and to never post pictures or information about other people without their permission.

  • Click smart. Teach your child not to open files or click on links unless they are from a trusted source. Talk about the dangers of malware and how viruses can harm files and the performance of the computer.

  • Install parental controls. Install a top-rated suite of parental controls to protect your home computers and monitor your childís use. And let your child know that you have installed parental controls; trust is the foundation of good decision-making.

If you maintain a dialogue and are consistent in your approach, your child will quickly develop the good online habits that will be so important through the teen years and beyond. Donít leave it to chance or let others teach your child. Become an online parent today!†

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