Tech Tips for Parents

The steps you can take to ensure that your children are safe and act responsibly in today's digital world will vary dramatically on how old they are and how much exposure they have to technology.

But if your children are still young, and they are starting to show an increasing interest in gadgets, games, and the Web, then it's definitely time to put your digital parenting plan into action!

Here are 10 tips to help you get started:

1. Get In The Game! Make an effort to understand the basics of the technology that your children are using on a daily basis. You may be doing a fantastic parenting job in all other aspects of your children's lives but without understanding at least some of the fundamentals, it’s hard to be part of their ever-expanding digital worlds. Plus, it's fun and educational – that’s why your kids love it so much!

2. Open a dialogue. Talk to your kids about technology and Internet safety. Agree on a set of rules for using the computer and going on the Internet. Surf the web together. Stay involved – your child's tech and online activity will increase and become more complex as they get older and technology continues to evolve. Keep the conversation going.

3. Be informed. Know what technology your child uses, what games they play, which web sites they visit, and who they are communicating with online. For younger children, give them an approved list of web sites.

4. Be interested. Ask your child what he is doing, what programs he is using, what sites he's visiting. Ask him to show you how his tech toys work and what he and his friends do with them.

5. Help your child understand what inappropriate behavior is. If you or your child encounter inappropriate behavior – whether it's violent video games, cyber-bullying, or online predators – don’t just ignore it. Act on it, whether it's talking to your child, bringing the subject up with another child's parents, or reporting it the appropriate authorities.

6. Buy a family computer and keep it in a public place in the home. Encourage your children to regard it as a resource for everyone to use. Give each of them separate IDs and passwords, so they have a sense of ownership and privacy.

7. Never give out personal information over the Internet. Explain to your child that he or she must never give out personal information. Family e-mail addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, photos, etc. should all be jealously guarded. Although social networking sites ask for and encourage sharing personal information, your child should know that protecting his own and his family's identity should be one of his top priorities.

8. Empower yourself. Use Internet filtering or monitoring software*. You don't have to check in on what your child is doing every day, but the fact that you can – and they know you can – helps set the right tone for responsible behavior.

9. Teach your children not to open unknown or suspicious files. Help your child understand what a suspicious file looks like.

10. Talk to other parents about your children's technology experiences and online safety. Form a network of other concerned parents. Join The Online Mom Network! When it comes to raising good digital citizens, it definitely takes a village!

* The Online Mom recommends Kaspersky PURE Total Security.

Do you have your own tech tips for parents? Share them here with The Online Mom!

Comment by Tom Steenhuysen, posted 2/12/2012, 10:43 PM:

Well put! Having parents actively involved is one of the most positive elements in keeping their children safe. Kidiso is a new web browser that lets children have fun, parents stay abreast of their online explorations and the family computer safe from any malware. Please check it out Thank you. Tom Steenhuysen co-founder Kidiso ~ the web browser for kids.
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