As technology advances, our children become more exposed to online threats. The online world offers a lot of benefits to children, which can be educational and rewarding. However, along with the benefits come the dangers that are associated with the online world. You should be aware of how to keep your kids safe online, to reduce the risk of them being exploited by online predators.
Communicate With Your Children About Online Threats
The first step that parents should take to keep their kids safe online is communicating with them. Communication between parents and children can be a powerful tool in itself. As soon as your child starts to show an interest in computers, you should tell them about the many online threats. Talk to them about sexual victimization and the many other potential online dangers. Explain to them how strangers online can sometimes pretend to be someone else, in order to exploit them.
Get Involved in Your Child’s Online Activities
Find the time to get online with your child, whether it is at the library or at home. The more time you spend on the Internet with your child, the less the chance of being exploited will be. While you are both logged online, pull up resources that explain some of the risks that you talked to your child about. This will help to reinforce the conversation that you had with your child about online predators.
Use Built-in Protection to Help Keep Your Kids Safe Online
Many computers are manufactured with built-in software that parents can use to monitor their kids online activities. For example, Windows Vista allow parents to create logon accounts for their kids, as well as set parameters. Parents can setup specific websites for their children to visit, the amount of time they can spend online and the types of games that they can play. In addition to that, you can gain access to a report of your child’s online activities.
Monitor E-mail Usage
It is common for children to be exploited by online predators through the use of e-mail. To prevent this from happening, let your child use a family e-mail address. This way you can easily monitor the e-mails that come into your inbox. This will work well for younger children, but as they get older they may need their own email address such as Yahoo or Hotmail. You can also set any built-in spam filter at the highest level. Be aware that kids can easily retrieve them from the spam folder.
Use Internet Filters
Internet filters such as Net Nanny, CyberSitter and Cyber Patrol are some of the many software options that can keep your kids safe online. You have to do your research and then decide which one is most effective. These are more suitable for younger kids. Once setup, the program runs in stealth mode while your child surfs the Internet.
Monitor Instant Messaging
Chat rooms and Instant messaging are two of the most common services that predators use. Use an Instant messaging service such as MSN Messenger, which doesn’t have chat rooms. You can set it up that only people from your child’s buddy list can send Instant messages. You can also configure the service so that it logs all conversations.
Put the Computer in a High Traffic Area
Consider putting the computer in an public area of the house. A good place would be in the living room. This way you can easily glance over and monitor your child’s online activities. It will be easier to spot any potential problems. Look for signs that may indicate that your child might be at risk.
Become an Advocate for Kids
Contact your Internet Service Provider if you see anything indicating that your child is being exploited. This is one way that you can protect your kids, as well as prevent dangerous situations from happening to other children. By doing this, you may even help to remove one more online predator from the Internet.
Warn About Giving- Personal Information Online
Talk to your kids about the dangers of giving out personal information to strangers, including online. They should be taught not to provide identifying information such as their name, home address, school name or telephone number. Neither should they upload pictures of themselves or arrange face-to-face meetings.