12 Basic Cybersmart Tips For Parents and Guardians
As your children's first Internet access provider, you must become cybersmart in order to help them wisely use the World Wide Web. Today's kids are getting connected at younger and younger ages. They're exposed to cyberspace at home, at school, and at their friends' homes. This means that it's important for you to keep current with your children's online activities and to communicate with them often.
Here are some basics to help you protect your children against many dangers on the Web, which can range from sexual predators and bullies (known on the Web as cyber bullies) to your children's own potentially risky behavior.
- Learn all you can about the Internet. For younger children, find and mark sites for them to visit, perhaps with you. These can include fun activity sites, library reference sites, and search engines for help on school projects.
- Talk to your kids about the Internet and the importance of being safe while online. Assure your children that whatever rules you set are for their safety.
- Put the computer in an open area of your home, such as the living room or kitchen. This will make it easier to monitor activity than if the computer is in your children's bedrooms.
- Become familiar with parental control programs. These are computer software programs that filter or block content that is inappropriate for your children.Some track what sites your children visit.
- Monitor your children's Internet use. Maintain access to their e-mail accounts, chat-room activities, and any social networks they are on. If children get uneasy when you enter a room while they're on the computer, this might indicate they are visiting an off-limits site or engaging in some questionable online activity.
- Have your children show you their favorite online sites.
- Get to know your children's online friends and remind them to avoid befriending people they don't know and trust.
- If one of your children informs you of an inappropriate site, report it to your Internet service provider or the company that created the material.
- Set up and/or learn all of your children's passwords and screen names/usernames (online identities). Make sure screen names don't reveal information about your children's real names, addresses, school, or age. Keep a record.
- Spend time online together until you are assured that your children understand the Internet's potential dangers and how to handle difficult situations.
- Make sure that Internet access at your children's schools is monitored by adults. If your children have internet access at their friends' homes, ask the parents what rules they have in place. Find out if the children are monitored while online.
- Enforce screen-time rules. Also, limit the time your children spend in front of computers for non-academic purposes.