Computers & Children
Computers and children are nearly inseparable these days. Many school-age kids and even preschool children spend hours in front of a computer every day. Because of that, parents have to be extra diligent about protecting children in their online activities. How can you keep your child safe online?
It’s no longer acceptable for parents not to understand the Internet. Children pick up computer skills through early exposure, often using computers and the Internet effectively by kindergarten or early elementary school. If you don’t know the basics of the World Wide Web by then, you start with a disadvantage. You will not be able to protect their safety online.
We have created a helpful document that expands on the suggestions listed on this page, you can find it in our recommended reading area.
- Computer in an Open Area
Your computer should be located in a common room in the house and positioned so that the monitor is available for public viewing. With the computer in a central area, it is easy for you to constantly monitor your child's usage. If your child is chatting, sending e-mail, or typing on an instant message, ask questions about who they are communication with and what they are saying.
- Install Parental Controls and Filters
These tools utilize several different strategies to help you control what your child does online. These tools will allow you to block websites, e-mail addresses, chat rooms and other content from your computer. But remember, no parental control tool is 100% reliable.
- Always Know Who Your Child is Talking To
If you don't like the subject matter or the person they talking to, block that person from your child's buddy list.
- Tag Along
Never allow your child to set up meetings with online friends unless you're allowed to tag along.
- Never Allow Secrets
Your child should know it's never okay to keep secrets online. No one, not a friend, trusted relative, child or even an adult should ask her to keep secrets. If someone asks her to keep a secret, she should let you know immediately.
- Be Aware of the Signs of Trouble
Does your child immediately hide what they are doing when you enter the room? Do they exit the page they are viewing or hide her their from you? Are they erasing their computer history? Watch for suspicious behavior and deal with it immediately.
- Limit Computer Time
Allow the computer to be used only during a certain time of the day, preferably when you are home. If this means you're the only one who can hold the password to the account, so be it.
- Child–Safe Searching
There are a number of child–safe search engines available on the web. These sites tend to be directories of known safe sites that are reviewed by individuals. Using these directories (GoogleSafe, KidzSearch and KidRex) children can learn to use search strategies without accidentally stumbling into a dangerous site.
It's always a good idea to keep the lines of communication open. Your child should be aware of what kind of behavior is appropriate and what is not. They shouldn't be afraid to ask any questions about things they don't understand. Don't be afraid to ask so many questions that you might alienate your child. It's better to be a parent and know what's going on, than to be a friend and unaware. The important thing is to know everything your child is up to when they're online. If this annoys them, they will get over it. One day they might even thank you.
One last tip is to teach–your child. if you explain the extent and types of danger they might encounter. Your child is more likely to comply.
Need help with something not mentioned? Please contact us. We would be glad to help.