Parents should be aware of what their kids see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. Talk with your kids, use tools to protect them, and keep an eye on their activities. Teach your kids safe and responsible online behavior, and monitor their Internet use.
Guidelines for parental supervision:
- Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor its use, not in individual bedrooms. Monitor any time spent on mobile devices.
- Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behavior. Let them show you what they like to do online.
- Set rules for social networking.
- Establish approved sites and time limits
- Use online protection tools to manage access to sites
- Bookmark kids’ favorite sites for easy access.
- Check your credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar account charges.
- Find out what, if any, online protection is offered by your child’s school, after-school center, friends’ homes, or any place where kids could use a computer without your supervision.
- Take your child seriously if he or she reports an uncomfortable online exchange.
Basic guidelines for parents to share with kids for safe online use:
- Follow the family rules, and those set by the Internet service provider.
- Never give out your passwords (other than with parents)
- Keep your privacy settings as high as possible
- Never post or trade personal pictures.
- Never reveal personal information, such as address, phone number, or school name or location.
- Don’t befriend anyone you do not know
- Never agree to get together in person with anyone met online without parent approval and/or supervision.
- Never respond to a threatening email, message, post, or text.
- Think carefully about what you say before you post something online.
- Always tell a parent or other trusted adult about any communication or conversation that was scary or hurtful.
Watch for warning signs of a child being targeted by an online predator. These can include:
- spending long hours online, especially at night
- phone calls from people you don’t know
- unsolicited gifts arriving in the mail
- your child suddenly turning off the computer when you walk into the room
- withdrawal from family life and reluctance to discuss online activities
Talk to your kids! Keep an open line of communication and make sure that they feel comfortable turning to you when they have problems online.
Sources: Kidshealth.org and Netsmartz.org