Internet safety should be considered seriously. Children have access to information, videos, pictures – the list is long – through the internet. Information is easily accessible, and personal information is shared frivolously and dangerously. As a parent, you need to understand how to educate and protect yourself and your children. There are internet safety laws in place to add a layer of protection for your children under the age of 13.
Internet Safety Laws
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) helps protect children younger than 13 and is designed to keep anyone from getting a child’s personal information without a parent’s knowledge or consent (Ben-Joseph, 2018).
Online Protection Tools
Many internet service providers have available software that assists in blocking sites and restricts personal information from being sent online.
Here are some free parental control software programs for you to examine.
- OpenDNS FamilySheild
- Kaspersky Safe Kids
Streaming services like Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV have parental controls built into them. Gaming services like PlayStation and Xbox have parental control options also (Ellis, 2020).
Getting Involved in Kids’ Online Activities
Teach your children safe and responsible online behavior by exploring the internet with them. You don’t have to literally look over their shoulder to monitor your children’s internet usage. Create your own social media accounts, and follow your children to keep tabs on what they are posting and who they are communicating with online.
Share these basic guidelines for online safety with your children.
- Never post or trade personal pictures
- Never reveal personal information, such as address, phone number, or school name or location
- Use your screenname only, and don’t share passwords
- Never agree to meet in person or online without parental consent or supervision
- Never respond to threatening messages or posts
- Always tell a parent or trusted adult about any communication or conversation that was scary or hurtful
Remember these basic guidelines for parental supervision.
- Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor who uses it
- Monitor time spent on smartphones or tablets
- Bookmark kids’ favorite sites for easy access
- Check credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar charges
- Find and learn about the online protection offered by your child’s school, after-school care, friends’ homes, or any place where your child could use a computer without your supervision
- Take your child seriously if he or she reports an uncomfortable online exchange
The Internet and Teens
Teenagers want – and need – some privacy. They may carry smartphones with them and have access to the internet at all times. Keep having the same conversations with your teens about passwords, staying safe online, and being careful about sharing personal information.
The internet can also provide a safe, virtual, environment for your teens to explore and have the freedom to do so. Not everything about the internet is ominous and scary. It can be helpful in learning and acquiring knowledge. It can be helpful in connecting with friends and family who are all over the world. It can be a place where your children can express their thoughts and ideas through informational websites, such as blogs. Starting internet safety conversations at a young age can increase your children’s online awareness and engagement in safe behaviors (Dredge, 2014).
Dredge, S. (2014, August 11). How do I keep my children safe online? What the security experts tell their kids. Children’s tech. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/11/how-to-keep-kids-safe-online-children-advice
Joeseph, E. (2018, April). Internet safety. Kids Health. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/net-safety.html
Techradar. (2020). The best free parental control software and apps 2020. https://www.techradar.com/best/parental-control