Exposure to offensive content, violent images, racist or hate material, contact with pedophiles and cyber-bullying are a few of the potential risks for children if their internet use is not monitored.
Who is pulling a tight leash when it comes to monitoring the topics that kids are exposed to while surfing the internet? According to Media Marketing Research in 2006, mothers are the primary gatekeepers for children between the ages of 6 – 11 when it comes to the use of the internet. A child’s best online protection is their parent or guardian. Acting as the gatekeeper they can use internet safety tools to limit access to content, websites and activities.
To be actively involved, follow the internet guidelines below:
- Use Internet filtering and parental control software programs to block access to sites and explicit content. These settings are password protected but kids are computer savvy, so be sure not to use a password that your child would easily know or they might be able to gain access to the settings.
- Use Privacy settings to restrict access to information about your child on various online sites. Most, if not all, social networking sites provide settings that limit who can view a child’s personal information. The privacy setting allows the gatekeeper to give permission to which friends, clubs or community groups are able to view a child’s profile and they can block unwanted guests such as predators or cyber-bullies from accessing any information.
- Teach your children to never give out personal information such as name, address, school they attend or if and when they are home alone at anytime. Encourage your child to be creative and use online nicknames so they don’t give away their real identity.
- Keep the computer centrally located in your home so you can periodically monitor internet activity without it being obvious to your child that you’re keeping an eye on them.
- Bookmark kids’ favorite sites for easy access.
- Limit the amount of time spent on the internet and encourage physical exercise.
- Teach responsible, ethical, online behavior that will help your child develop a respectable online presence.
By talking to your children about potential online dangers and being their gatekeeper, you’ll help them surf the Internet safely.