As a parent, your child’s safety is your top priority — but how often does their safety online cross your mind? It can be easy to forget how dangerous the Web has the potential to be, especially when cybercrime and cyberbullying can be very sneaky business. June is National Internet Safety Month, and with the kids out of school for the summer, there’s never been a better time to review some tips for keeping them safe online as they enjoy their free time for the next few blissful months. We’ve put together five quick tips to help keep you and your kids stay safe online not just for National Internet Safety Month, but all year round.
1. Be honest and informative.
First thing’s first: educating your kids about the World Wide Web and the risks that accompany it is a must before allowing them to explore online at all. Think of it like teaching them about drugs and alcohol — make them aware of the dangers they might encounter, how to handle those dangers, and why staying safe online is so important. For example, explain to them that giving away personal information to an unknown source online isn’t smart, or that posting a status about being out of town is dangerous.
2. Make ground rules.
To help create a clear and safe online atmosphere for your family, make a set of rules for them to follow. These can include everything from how much time they can spend online, which photos and videos are okay to post, which sites they’re allowed to visit, or which Wi-Fi networks they can use. These rules vary depending on the ages of your children, but starting with a solid foundation of what they should and should not do online is a great start to keeping them safe. You can also print them out and tape them near the computer or in a place where they can see them regularly.
Helicopter parenting isn’t everyone’s style, but keeping a close eye on your child’s online activity is key to making sure they’re being safe. Keep your family computer in a common area of your home, and limit your kids’ screen time to no more than two hours a day. Wondering how to supervise without overstepping their privacy? Be sure to create an open and ongoing conversation with them about Internet safety, and make it known that they can always come to you if they’re in trouble.
4. Install kid-friendly filtering software.
Since you can’t keep track of every minute of your kids’ time online, the next best thing you can do is use parental controls to block inappropriate content on your family computer and across all your kids’ devices. Programs like Net Nanny, Web Watcher, and McAfee Safe Eyes are all fantastic options for filtering your kids’ web activity when you’re not around, and even offer controls for mobile devices.
5. Stay informed.
Keeping up with what’s trending online is the best way for you to pass along helpful safety information to your children and to continue keeping your entire family safe. Make an effort to read up daily on trending topics and news such as cybercrime, hacking, and tips and tricks for internet safety. Educating yourself is key to setting a great example to your kids and to continue creating a safe and informative environment at home.
Following these simple guidelines is a great way to ensure your kids’ summer is spent safely while they enjoy their free time online, and we encourage you to continue a healthy and open conversation about Internet safety all year long. Happy National Internet Safety Month!
Do you have any other Internet safety tips? Let us know in the comments below!