For the average parent, the Internet and digital age innovations are a great resource for their young child. However, there are many dangers lurking in the darker corners, and it’s important to keep your young child safe so that they don’t view adult content, download viruses or even worse become the victim of an online predator.
Since children have been growing up with the Internet as a normal form of communication and source of information, some of the filters and reservations that older generations may have about online etiquette and behavior aren’t naturally there. It’s the job of a parent to teach a child to have these filters, and grow up to be a responsible and smart Internet user.
Set Up Parental Controls On Their Own Account
Virtually every device these days has a parental controls feature, and this is a great first line of defense for you and your child. Depending on the number of young children you have, create a personal account for each of them on your computer. This will have a positive effect for you as well as the child. On the one hand, your child feels that they have their own personal space, and on the other, you can dictate the boundaries of that personal space. By creating separate accounts you can easily log in to their space, and monitor the websites and activities they have been taking part in.
Keep The Computer In Sight
One of the easiest ways to keep track of what you’re child is doing on the Internet, is by keeping the computer in sight. By having the computer in a centralized room, you can periodically check in and keep tabs on them. Be engaged as well, ask them what they’re looking at, talking about, or playing. Take a genuine interest in what they’re explaining or excited about. If a child thinks you’re interested in what they are doing, they’re more likely to keep you in the loop, and further disinclined to break the bond of trust that you two have established.
Schedule Internet Usage
Setting up a schedule for using the computer and Internet is also a good idea in order to establish a routine with your child. Go even further by selecting an amount of time where the Internet is for fun, and another period where it’s for work. Consider allowing your child an hour or two to unwind after school, and let them use the Internet for their own personal use. After that time, make it clear that the Internet is only to be used for help with homework, if needed.
Use Learning Tools
There are many games and tools on the Internet that can teach your child about staying safe online. One such program, called Safe Online Surfing, was developed by the FBI to teach online safety to children in grades three through eight. Each grade section has it’s own games, and levels of learning about how to stay safe on the Internet. Play the game with your child as well, pay attention to their thought processes through the different questions and games so you can also see for yourself the level of your child’s safety barometer.
It’s important to remember that keeping your child safe isn’t about restriction, but fostering trust and rules. Without proper communication and education of the boundaries and safeguards you’re putting in place, you may only push your child into rebelling and keeping their online activities a secret.
Angie Picardo is a writer at NerdWallet, a financial literacy website where you can find advice on college tuition planning for your children.