The Internet is an incredible utopia of information and has become a mainstream tool for many people. Whether someone is looking for coupons, doing a book report, or just chatting with friends online, there is something for everyone. The problem is that some very bad people have also found a niche on the World Wide Web. With the growing number of Internet-savvy children and the vast amount of creeps online, there are bound to be problems. Kids can often be oblivious to the true dangers that lie within the online world.
It is up to the parents to ensure that their children are prepared and secure. Below are five very important steps parents should take to protect their children online.
Educate children (protect kids). There is nothing more important than letting kids know that there are people out there with malicious interests in them. Depending on the child’s age, it is wise to let them know some of the dangers the Internet may hold and show them examples. Give them the knowledge they need to make mature decisions. If the child can understand why something is right or wrong, you can work wonders in protecting them. If the kid knows why they should not be doing something, and they know the warning signs of danger, there is a much better chance of avoiding bad situations.
Limit Internet usage. Although it is hard to tell kids that they only have an hour online every day, it is easy to cut the Internet off when they should be in bed. Yes, there are phones and the neighbor’s WiFi, but you can make it a little harder on your kids to sneak around at night after you have gone to bed by simply shutting your Internet off at night. It is recommended that you take the router or something into your own bedroom so that the kids cannot just plug it back in. However, telling your kids that they are only allowed online until it is time for bed can be effective. If they get their fill of Internet gossip during the day, they may very well be content with getting offline and going to bed on time.
Although there should be a certain degree of trust with your kids, it can be wise to keep the computer in an open space in the house. The living room can be a very good place to put the computer so that everyone can see what your child is doing online. This is a great deterrent to inappropriate activities. Best of all, you have the opportunity to spot malicious behavior even if your child does not realize anything wrong is going on. It is surprising how naïve children can be about certain things. So placing the computer in the house so that everyone can walk right by and see the child’s Internet activity can prove very useful.
Check the Internet history. This sounds like a very simple solution, but it can work very well. It is perfectly possible for your kid you erase their history on their own. However, there is software that you can install on your computer to track the Internet usage, regardless of whether it was deleted or not. Nevertheless, checking what your kid has been doing on the computer in private can be an extreme measure to protecting your child. Many child psychologists suggest doing this only if parents know their child is doing something wrong and talking with them does not work. Essentially, making sure your child is not going to certain websites can be the real key to avoiding trouble. This method is most affective if you are worried about your child finding danger, not danger finding your child (safe online search). In the case of a teenage boy looking up pornography, checking the history can prove helpful.
In the case of your teenage daughter sending inappropriate pictures over Facebook, this method is not as helpful (safe online).
Last but not least is to check your child’s Facebook. Making your kid add you as a friend on Facebook is useless because they can filter what information you see. By checking their profile directly from the computer that they are using is essential. Check who they have added as friends, what posts they have made, and any sort of likes they have made. A lot of bad people are making their way over to Facebook and other social networking sites and adding their potential victims. Unfortunately, most people will add everyone that sends a friend request. By simply checking your kid’s friends list can prove to be very helpful. Keep in mind that kids have more than just a Facebook. They have access to everything from Facebook, to Twitter, to YouTube. There are millions of third-party websites that are much less popular but can be just as dangerous. In fact, many online threats feel safer on third-party websites because there is a smaller chance of detection. It is imperative to know where your child frequents and, in general, what information they are posting.
At the end of the day, there are millions of ways to avoid detection and get into trouble online. There is no full-proof method to staying safe online. However, some simple steps can help deter your child from seeking out trouble. Even more important, online creeps are pretty good at knowing when parents are monitoring their child’s activities. So, playing an assertive role in your child’s online activity can scare away possible dangers just as well as deterring your child from getting involved with said dangers. Education is probably the most important method. Unless your child knows the risks and the dangers, you are limited to what you can do. Educating your child and helping them to understand why they should or should not be doing something online will help them now and later in life when they are on their own. Whatever method(s) you choose to utilize, just be sure to stay on top of the latest threats by watching the news. Stay informed and best of luck.