If your children are online, it is crucial that you know what they are doing, when they are doing it, why they are doing it, how they are doing it and who they are doing it with. While the internet is a great place for kids to read educational materials, chat with friends from school and play fun games, it can also be very risky to your child’s emotional well-being and physical safety. The most common activities that kids engage in online is social networking and surfing the net. Here is how to keep your kids safe online…
Communicating and Social Networking
Online communicating is done through a wide array of methods such as blogs, journals, chat rooms, email and instant messaging (IM). Social networking sites consist of those like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On these sites, kids create profiles that others can view and become “friends” with other people online that they can they chat with.
For the most part, these sites are used for sharing photos, gossiping, expressing opinions and make plans for the weekend with friends. However, parents need to know that one out of every five children will get sexually solicited on these social networking sites. These are prime areas for cyber bullies, predators and complete strangers to target children. Profiles on these sites show your child’s age, gender and hometown.
What can parents do? Know exactly who your child is talking to online. Look at who is on their friends list and have them remove anyone that they haven’t actually seen or met in person. Teach your child not to give out personal information like their address or phone number and ensure they never meet a stranger in person.
Surfing the Net
Surfing the net is a great way for kids to look up something for a homework assignment or access learning materials like periodicals, newspapers and encyclopedias. However, if their computer doesn’t have restrictions of any kind, they may be subjected to things like inappropriate content, viruses, erroneous information and pop-up advertisements.
What can parents do in this case? You can set rules and time limits. Keeping your child safe online means setting rules about what is considered appropriate content, language and behavior online. Time limits are also important as the less time they have access to the computer, other than for school work, the safer they are from online harm.
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