Wednesday Wisdom: Kids and Internet Safety

January 17, 2008 at 9:57 pm | Posted in children, dads, Families, moms, Mothers, parents, Safety, Self Esteem, teens, Thoughtful Thursday, Tweens, Wednesday Wisdom | 1 Comment
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Internet safety is a serious issue.  The problem with Internet safety is there are few ways to actually control what your kids do on line except to eliminate all on line activity.  And as children get older this becomes progressively more difficult.  Increasingly, children from the sixth grade up are being expected to do school research and communicate with teachers via the Internet.  And almost all high school children are definitely assumed to have access and knowledge of how to use the Internet

So where does this leave you as a parent?  Is there anyway to keep tabs on what is going on?  As a parent you have a serious responsibility to your child’s upbringing.  In the case of Internet safety you need to understand that you must instill certain values in your children and respect for your rules and guidelines.  With the ability to go on line anywhere from a phone to a library to a café you really cannot keep tabs on all Internet activity. 

Because of the nature of Internet many parents alienate themselves from what their children do online.  They seem to think that since there is really no way to monitor everything that is happening there is nothing they can do.  I can assure that is not the case.  You do have ways of helping your children use the Internet appropriately and safely.

Following are seven tips for Internet safety for your children:

1.  Never give out identifying information.  Talk with your children about how the information is special to the family and if anyone on line wants some personal information they MUST have you give them the information.  Let them know what personal information means- the regular things-name, address, phone number, age- and the less regular things- school, church, pets names, friends names, hair, eye color, pictures. 

2.  Explain that with Internet communication sometimes people pretend to be who they aren’t.  A person can pretend they are any age or gender.  Some people suggest that you never meet anyone in person who you have met on the Internet except in public places.  But I would go one step further.  Tell your children to communicate with only people they already know.  And be wary of anyone who they meet through a friend on the Internet.  I have my kids only communicate with people who have been seen in person by someone they know.

3.  Here is the most common thing you will ever hear about anything you ever do with your kids.  Get involved.  And you are wondering how to get involved?  You can ask your child to explain how to do things on the computer.  You can be interested in what they are doing.  Ask the same questions you would ask about their activities that are in school, sports, or socially.  If your kids become defensive, explain you are just interested in what they are doing.  And since there was no Internet when you were young you are learning about how to talk about Internet activities.  Make it light and fun. 

4.  Be sure your children understand that offers that seem too good to be true usually are.   And remind them to never give financial information out to anyone.  This is really part of personal information.

5.  As much as possible have your children be on line in a common room of your house-living room, family room, kitchen.  But not in their bedroom or other room where they are alone.

6.  Do check blockers, filters, and ratings.  These are ways to limit what your children can view and open on line. 

7.  Have guidelines for time using electronics that can be Internet connected.  Tell you children this is a trust situation.  But there are ways to check history of computer use, phone use, and game use. 

Beyond all these set ideas, you have the responsibility to impart your personal values and morals to your children.  Be sure your children know that morals and values need to be maintained even with Internet activity.  Let your children understand that if they ever encounter anything they feel is inappropriate, harmful, or just plain bad, you are always there to help them.  And you expect them to come to you when things aren’t right.  For your part be sure to respond with love and respect, even if you are horrified and shocked.  Remember, if you want your kids to come to you let them know how much you appreciate their trust in you.

When you give your children the opportunity to have safety with the Internet, you give them a real stable groundwork to use in all encounters of their lives.

Dont forget:  Our weekly GEM Parenting podcast for the week, “Keeping your Kids Safe on the Internet” is only $5.99 for a full hour of information, tips, and guidance on the best practices for making sure your kids stay safe online.  Dont wait….order your podcast today!

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1 Comment »

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  1. Hi Grace!
    We completely agree that internet safety is important for children, and that doesn’t mean eliminating on line activity is the answer. On, we are currently featuring a week long series called Online Fun for Kids. We spotlight resources for advice, safe sites for kids, educational sites, and web resources for activities you can do away from the computer. I hope you’ll check it out. And feel free to email me with any comments or suggestions. Thank you for bringing up such important issues with your readers!
    Here’s our link…

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