Another school year is in full swing and the family calendar is packed with extra curricular activities and important school dates. We encourage parents and guardians to dedicate one day a week to assessing their children’s Internet lives.
Below is a list of Internet safety tips to keep in mind for this school year:
- Set a time limit. Control the amount of time your children are at the computer when they are not using it for schoolwork. Cut the duration to 2-3x a week, or an hour a day if they are a bit older. When they are on the Internet, ask what they are looking at and whom they are talking to. Pro-active parenting communicating with your children about who and what they are accessing on-line will help to keep your children safe.
- Apply your email address to all social media accounts and keep a record of passwords. There are many popular social media platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram, to name a few. Make your email address the contact email for all of your children’s accounts. This way, you will receive all activity notifications including friend requests from potential threats and the option to decline or report the request.
- Personal means Private. Be clear with your child. His or her personal information is never to be shared with anyone on the Internet. Their name, address, phone number, email address, school name or names of their family members is confidential. For older children, discourage status updates/tweets that may include a mention of family vacations, notifying potential misfits of an empty house for a long period of time. Make it a house rule to review your children’s photos and videos before they are posted anywhere.
- Not all online “Friends” are Friends. Keep an eye out for abrasive and cruel comments from other children online. Cyber bullying is sometimes only a layer of a much larger problem your child may be facing on a regular basis.
Up to age 10
It is important to use Internet safety tools to limit access to content, websites and activities, and be actively involved in your child’s Internet use, but it is strongly recommended that you sit with your child when they use the Internet, until the age of 10.
Safety tips to consider when you go online with your 2-10 year old:
- Always sit with your kids at this age when they’re online.
- Set clear rules for Internet use.
- If a site encourages kids to submit their names to personalize the web content, help your kids create online nicknames that don’t give away personal information.
- Use family safety tools to create appropriate profiles for each family member and to help filter the Internet. All family members should act as role models for young children who are just starting to use the Internet.
Ages 11 to 14
Kids this age know about the Internet, but it’s still a good idea to supervise and monitor Internet use to help ensure your kids are not exposed to inappropriate materials. You can use Internet safety tools to limit access to content and websites and provide a report of Internet activities. Make sure children this age understand what personal information they should not give over the Internet.
Safety tips to consider when you go online with your 11-14 year old:
- Set clear rules for Internet use.
- If a site encourages kids to submit their names to personalize the web content, help your kids create online nicknames that give away no personal information.
- Use family safety tools to create appropriate profiles for each family member and to help filter the Internet.
- Set family safety tools on the medium security setting, which should have some limitations on content, websites, and activities.
- Keep Internet-connected computers in an open area where you can easily supervise your kids’ activities.
- Help protect your children from offensive pop-up windows by using the pop-up blocker that’s built in to Internet Explorer.
- Encourage your children to tell you if something or someone online makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Stay calm and remind your kids they are not in trouble for bringing something to your attention. Praise their behavior and encourage them to come to you again if the same thing happens.
Ages 15 to 18
Teenagers have almost limitless access to content, websites and activities. They are smart about the web but they still need parents to remind them of appropriate safety guidelines. Help their teens understand inappropriate messages and avoid unsafe situations. It’s a good idea for parents to remind teens what personal information should not be given over the Internet.
Safety tips to consider as you guide your teens online:
- Keep family communication open and positive about computers. Talk about online lives, friends and activities.
- Encourage your teens to tell you if something or someone online makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. If you’re a teen and something or someone online doesn’t seem quite right, speak up.
- Create a list of Internet house rules as a family. Include the kinds of sites that are off limits, Internet hours, what information should not be shared online and guidelines for communicating with others online, including social networking.
- Keep Internet-connected computers in an open area and not in a teen’s bedroom.
- Protect your children from offensive pop-up windows by using the pop-up blocker that’s built in to Internet Explorer.
- Know which websites your teens visit and whom they talk to. Encourage them to use monitored chat rooms and insist they stay in public chat room area.
- Insist that they never agree to meet an online friend.
- Do not download programs, music or files without your permission. File-sharing and taking text, images or artwork from the web may infringe on copyright laws and can be illegal.
- To protect them from spam do not give out your email address online, do not to respond to junk mail and to use email filters.
- Look at the websites your teens frequent. Make sure they’re not visiting sites with adult content or posting personal information. Monitor the photos that teens post of themselves and their friends.
- Teenagers should act responsibly online. No spreading gossip, bullying or threatening others.
- Online purchases should be discussed ahead of time between you and your teen.
- Online gambling is illegal for your teen and has severe potential risks.
This is a guest blog post from our attorney friends at Graves McLain Medical Injury Attorneys in Tulsa, Oklahoma.