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Keeping Kids Safe On The Internet


Kids born in the last twenty or so years are considered digital natives. They grew up using technology like smartphones and Google. They have a very different understanding of the web than many of today's parents. It's your job as a mom or dad to make sure your children are well-equipped to know how to stay safe on the internet. Here are some tips:

Keep the computer in a family space

When you're able to see what your children are doing on the computer, you'll feel a lot better about them using the device. Consider placing a desktop computer in a family space like the living room. Or, make a rule that mobile tech like tablets and laptops can only be used in certain areas of your home. This way, you can keep an eye on your kids without having to pop into their rooms every few minutes.

Talk about information sharing

Websites that require accounts typically ask for the user's date of birth to confirm they are at least over age 13. That does not mean your kids can't lie their way around this by simply changing their birth year. It's important to explain to your children when it's OK to share this information and when it's inappropriate. You may want to have your kids ask you before they share their address, date of birth or even real name with people and websites.

Many schools and teachers ask that students partake in projects with web-collaborative aspects, but they do so through secure servers. If a homework assignment requires students to work on a more public forum, like an education website, the educator will likely send home a permission slip. Feel free to check out the site your child may need to access. It's safer to create a goofy name like doggy_lover than to use your kids' actual names. Just make sure to write down passwords and usernames so you can easily retrieve them in the event that your kid forgets.

Set boundaries

At what age do you think it's OK for your kids to get social media accounts? This is an inevitable question in today's society, and every parent has to make the choice based on their own kids. Consider maturity levels and understanding of internet safety before granting permission for your kids to use Facebook, Snapchat and other platforms. It's also important to set guidelines on when your kids can use the computer. Stepping away from screens an hour before bedtime has been known to improve sleep, so ensure your kids have a cutoff time for computer homework and gaming.

Parents should also discuss what websites their kids can and cannot visit. While YouTubing funny animal videos is probably OK with you, you may not want your children playing first-person shooter games on the web. Decide what is allowed and then talk it over with your kids so they understand your decisions and any consequences should they disobey the rules.

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