When your children use the Internet, a world of information and entertainment opens for them. But with the advantages come risks, and you want to make sure your children stay safe. There are a wealth of books and Internet resources designed to help you understand the risks and help your children use the Internet safely and well. Here are just a few beginning steps:
Set ground rules: Include issues such as how much time your children can spend online; what kinds of uses they can make of the Internet, and what kinds of websites they can access. There are also search engines that are designed to be safe for children.
Keep computers in your home’s public spaces: You want to be able to look over your child’s shoulder as they work, to make sure they are not getting into trouble. This may mean assigning a space for your home computer or computers such as a corner of the dining room or the desk in the kitchen.
Discuss the risks: Explain that the person they’re chatting with could be lying and someone posing as a young girl or boy may be an adult predator. Connect the “stranger danger” lessons to the Internet also.
Set privacy limits: No photos, names and addresses, passwords, ages or phone numbers should be provided when on the Internet.
Control purchases: Make it clear that any Internet purchases should be done by you. Make sure that your children don’t have access to credit or debit cards.
Set behavior standards: The Golden Rule also fits on the Internet. No bullying, name calling, or mean gossip should be permitted. Remind them that anything that goes on the Internet, including emails, is public information and should be treated that way.