1. Stay out in the open. Keep the computer in a main room where you can see what is happening. Have your children use tech devices around you. In the same way you keep an eye on your busy toddler, keep an eye on your child who is using the internet. Teach your child to never give out personal information, i.e. name, birthday, address, phone number, school name, or places where they spend time, to anyone they don't know.
2. Learn how to use the internet yourself. Keep up with the ever-changing world wide web. Learn how to use social media, apps, devices, and technology in general. In order to know what your kids are dealing with, you must have an idea of how to work the internet yourself. You'll be able to talk with them about it better if you are internet savvy and understand the jargon.
3. Watch out for the "good sites" too. Even with regular sites like Amazon.com, Facebook, and YouTube, a child can easily get lost in unwanted territory. A recent study showed that children are only three clicks away from inappropriate content on YouTube. Keep adult apps off the devices your children use. Even if they usually just play the games, they may wander into the wrong apps when you are not watching.
4. Have a family plan. As parents, we talk to our kids about drugs and drunk driving, and now it's time to have regular and frank conversations about the dangers of the internet. They need to know about online predators, cyberbullying, etc. As a family, create a safety plan about what to do in a bad internet situation. Here are some ideas:
- Have them immediately come talk to you if they see something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Share passwords. Always keep track of their passwords and accounts. Be open about it, so they know you are there to protect them and watch over them. It's not prying or babying them. It's helping them.
- Limit their internet use (and yours). Have a scheduled time that they can use it when you are around and aware.
- Keep their devices for them. When it's not their "internet time" parents should keep track of the device and put it safely away.
- Install safety software and apps on your computers and devices.. Use passwords to keep children out of sites. There are several options available.
5. Communicate often. Keep the conversation going with your children. Stay involved in their lives. Have fun with them and get them talking. Let them know you are always there for them and ready to help. Having open communication with your children will be vital if/when an internet problem comes along.