I’ve been working in Internet Security for quite a few years now. Both at the events I speak at and just in passing, I’m often asked the same questions by parents about online safety. Here are 16 simple rules that will make like a whole lot easier for you to keep you and your children safe online.
If you’d like help in this area or have any questions feel free to drop a comment or email MinorSafe@tubu.net the friendly, qualified staff at Tubu Internet Solutions are more than happy to help or point you in the right direction.
1. Get informed. Be informed
Don’t plead ignorance, don’t think that you know everything already the Internet and everything connected to it is ever changing.
Learn! Ask your children where they’re going and what they’re doing online.
Learn the lingo – it only takes a quick Google search or a visit to Cybertipline.com to find out what acronyms are being used in chats and texts.
2. Be aware
What Internet connected devices do your kids have? iPods, phones, laptops, they’re all capable of getting online now – more and more devices are becoming Internet connected. Many parents don’t consider MP3 players when it comes to online safety.
Learn how to set up your computer with parental controls. Know how to check the history.
Most computers on the market now have Parental controls in the operating system default. Learn to use them.
Don’t check the history on the computer all day every day. Don’t come down on your child/children like a ton of bricks if you do see something questionable too. Mis-clicks do happen, searches do go wrong, popups….well… pop up.
Learn what to look for.
4. Get Online!
Yes, this is relative to #1 but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’m asked “where can I learn about the Internet?” or “is there a good book I can read on online safety?” Not surprisingly, the best place to learn about the Internet is… the Internet! look at sites, learn about new technologies, search for terms, words and more. Get online and become a part of it all.
5. Be taught
Who better to teach you about what’s going on online, and what’s going online in your house than your very own child? Ask, don’t resist, be willing to be taught.
6. Make the rules
Its probably your computer, likely your electricity and I’m sure its your internet connection. You’re paying for it all, you can make a few rules. Don’t rule with too much of an iron fist though.
How long is your child allowed to be online? who are they allowed to talk to? what sites are they allowed to visit? what hours are they not to be online? chores to be completed first? etc. etc.
Post the rules, near your computer.
7. Keep your computer in a common area
This was my number one rule but it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep ‘the Internet’ in the public eye at home. See rule 2.
At least keep the main, family computer where everyone can see it. If your child must have an Internet connected device in their bedroom, make sure they use it with their bedroom door open.
8. Make your child feel a
Your child needs to feel safe enough and trusted enough to be able to not be afraid to talk to an adult and fear the repercussions.
Your child needs to know that they can approach and talk to a trusted adult whenever they experience anything worrying online. It doesn’t have to be you, the parent. Maybe a family member, teacher, pastor, etc.
9. Communication is key
Like anything in parenting (so I’ve heard) and in life in general communication is key.
These are conversations that will come up (and probably before the “birds and bees” do) prepare yourself for them.
Talk, be open, encourage and engage.
10. Safeguard your computer
Be sure that you’re using up to date mal-ware and virus prevention software. Malware can encourage popups and undesirable software to appear on your computer screen.
Protect your children – protect your computer.
11. Know how to turn it off
Along with rule 8, make sure your child knows to and knows how to turn off the computer screen whenever they see something online that makes them feel uncomfortable.
More importantly, be sure they come to your right away to tell you so that you can turn it back on and deal with the problem appropriately.
12. Check email addresses
No, don’t check your child’s email, check their email address. Email addresses pop up in all kinds of places and can give away al kinds of information. i.e “SteelValleyCheerleader@…” or “KimberlySmith15″@…”. Be considerate when creating email addresses and educate your children the same way.
13. Don’t give out your child’s email address or information
It might sound like it should go without saying but there are quite a few parents are a little too liberal in how much in how much information they give out about their children in forums, message boards etc.
Think before you post anything. You’re telling your children to do it – practice what you preach.
14. Discuss what personal information is
The definition of “personal information” has changed a great deal since when you were a child. You likely think of personal information differently to how your children do and will when they will be your age.
Discuss with your children what personal information is. What is safe to tell others and what isn’t.
Most importantly – tell them why!
15. Your home is safe, are others?
Be aware of where else your children might be getting online. You’ve taken all the necessary precautions to keep your child safe online in your home, are their friends and their families doing the same?
16. Report it!
If you feel there is something online going on talk to your local Police department. Police departments often have at least one person in the department who can deal with online situations. If they don’t have someone in-house they certainly have resources they can pull on.
Author: Andy Quayle
Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.
Should his schedule permit, Andy is available to help you with your SEO and Web Analytics needs.