The Internet is filled with way too many opportunities for kids to jump down a rabbit hole to inappropriate subject matter, questionable photos, manipulative content, hate speech, and misinformation. Though there are many ways to protect kids from the darker side of the internet, there’s always more that we could be doing as parents to keep our children safe. To keep kids from straying towards stuff you don’t want them to see, here are some key strategies.
Supervise your children’s internet time
Though it’s not always possible to be there 24/7, taking an interest in what your child is doing online and overseeing their internet use can help in identifying inappropriate subject matter. Be a co-pilot and partner to your child, as they explore the internet. As they get older, this obviously is not a realistic approach to take however even as they reach adolescence, be sure to check in now and again.
Set rules for using the internet
Many parents find it very helpful to set rules on when and how the internet is to be used. For example, deciding what sites they are allowed to go to, how much time they are to spend on the computer, and limiting total screen time across their multiple devices is always helpful.
Be clear with your children on protecting their private information
Kids rarely know how important it is to protect their personal, private information. Therefore, be sure to communicate to your children what personal information they are never to share online and the consequences of what happens when they do share this information. Among the information kids should never be sharing online, these include name, phone number email address, passwords, address and postal code, and school. Under no circumstances should your child be exchanging or sending pictures without your permission. Also, kids should never be opening emails from people they don’t know, responding to negative messages online, and should not be arranging to meet anyone they meet online.
Keep internet time in a central location
Install the computer in a safe, public place in the home where it’s easy to oversee what’s going on. For some families, they may have multiple computers however only a few are connected to the internet. Any device connected to the internet should be held in a central location.
Use parental controls
Using parental controls is a key component of internet safety for kids and is typically among the first things parents do before letting their children explore the internet. Be sure to look into what security monitoring system your ISP has provided you with. Depending on the brand, you might be able to limit access to certain sites and communication features according to time of day, content categories, keywords, and age-intent. There also may be parental controls on your browser which can help filter out content with inappropriate language, nudity, sexual references, and violence. These parental filters will not always catch everything you want them to but they should work to catch most of the content you want off-limits.
The last thing any parent wants is for their child to see something that makes them feel uncomfortable, bullied, sad, or confused. By employing these strategies, we believe you can better monitor your kids’ internet time and keep them safe from the places you don’t want them venturing to.