Today’s blog is a guest post contribution by Joanna Sommer, Senior Editor of InformedMag.
The rise of the internet and increased use of personal devices, even amongst children and teenagers, has created a very different landscape for parents. Even young parents are unlikely to have experienced the level of technology exposure that their children have today.
Today, most children have their own devices, including cell phones, tablets and laptops. This makes it more difficult for parents to monitor internet use and makes it more important than ever to teach your children about how to use the internet safely.
Begin with one device.
As your children get older, it is likely that they will ask to use the internet for school projects, to find something they saw on TV, or even to play online games. There are plenty of educational tools on the internet – so it is possible that you may even be the one to first introduce them to it.
At whichever point you allow them to go online, it is advisable to limit internet use to one family computer. This enables you to set up site blocking and review their online history to make sure that your rules are being respected. As they adopt safe online practices and become increasingly comfortable with the internet, you can incorporate their own devices as well.
Internet use is a privilege, not a right.
As your children begin to start to use the internet, it is important that they respect it as a tool that they only have access to by your permission. Especially in the beginning, they should ask your permission to go online.
Even with site blocking in place, you may want to restrict them to certain children-friendly sites in the beginning. Review their online history to make sure that they are adhering to your rules.
Have established guidelines for proper conduct.
Type of your internet use guidelines and post them by the computer so that your stance is clear. You may want to include some of the following items:
- Express that permission is required before accessing the internet
- Establish a time limit for use per day
- List whichever sites are off limits (for young children these may include social media networks, for example)
- State that they should never provide any personal information (full name, address, payment information) without your approval
- State that they may not create a username and password for any site without your approval
- State that they need your permission to enter any website that has a posted age limit
- If your child is allowed to use an instant messaging service, establish guidelines around who they are allowed to talk to (classmates only, for example)
Be open about your concerns.
The internet is a great tool and source of information and should be treated as such. You do not need to scare your children away from it, but it can be helpful to have a frank conversation about what your concerns are. This may be as simple as explaining that there is content on the internet that is not suitable for young children. As they get older, you can be more specific about the nature of the content that you feel should be avoided. This will enable your children to identify what is and is not appropriate without relying on a site blocker.
Invest in internet safety software.
With the amount that children do use the internet in today’s world, and the number of devices that they have access to as they get older, it is impossible to monitor everything on your own. This is where internet safety software comes in.
Parental control software, such as Net Nanny, enables you to utilize filters to block unwanted content, such as sites related to porn, violence or hate. Full spectrum versions analyze page visits in real time, so if your child accidentally (or purposefully) stumbles upon a site with unwanted content, it will be blocked. You might also consider purchasing a ‘clean router’ to replace your usual internet router. This enables your parental control software to monitor all of the internet-using devices in the house.
By establishing proper use etiquette, and monitoring for adherence, from the beginning of your children’s internet use, you will establish good use habits and best safe principals that will keep your children safe. By being clear about your guidelines and concerns, and utilizing monitoring software, you can keep your children safer online.
About the author
Joanna is the Senior Editor for InformedMag and is passionate about security and tech. She has been working in the home safety and security field for 5 years. Joanna loves to travel and enjoys going to hot yoga and Barre classes. She is dedicated to creating articles that both educate and help people make informed purchasing decisions.