The internet can be wonderful for kids. They can use it to research school reports, play interactive games, and communicate with their friends. But online access also comes with risks, like inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and online predators.
As a parent or caretaker, it’s up to you to be aware of what your kids see and hear on the internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. Here’s some advice to help you.
Basic Guidelines for Kids’ Supervision Online
Teaching kids safe and responsible online behavior is key, and keeping an eye on their internet use is your responsibility.
- Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behavior
- Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor its use, not in individual bedrooms. Monitor any time spent on smartphones or tablets
- Bookmark kids’ favorite sites for easy access
- Check your credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar account charges
- Tell kids to never reveal personal information, such as address, phone number, or school name or location
- Take your child seriously if he or she reports an uncomfortable online exchange
Use Online Protection Tools
Online tools let you control your kids’ access to adult material and help protect them from predators. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) provide parent-control options, but you can also purchase software that blocks access to sites and restricts personal information from being sent online.
As kids get older, it’s trickier to monitor their time spent online. They probably want—and need—some privacy. You can help ensure a safe “virtual” environment by taking some precautions together.
- Talk about the sites and apps teens use and their online experiences
- Discuss the dangers of interacting with strangers online and remind them that people online don’t always tell the truth
- Explain that passwords are there to protect against things like identity theft. They should never share them with anyone, even a boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend
Taking an active role in your kids’ online activities helps ensure that they benefit from them without being exposed to the potential dangers. Be sure to stay on top of this delicate experience.