In this digital age, it's likely that your kids will know their email address before they learn their physical address. And it's no doubt that they will know how to use all of your gadgets - from your iPad to your smartphone - better than you do. With all of this cyber-savvy, how can we as parents keep up, let alone stay one step ahead to keep our kids safe online?
Of course, the most important thing you can do to keep your child safe on the Web is to talk to them issues such as online privacy, cyberbullying, and internet safety. Make sure they understand what they should and should not do online. And keep the line of communication open so that they can talk to you if they have questions or suspect something is not quite right.
Beyond that, there are tools you can use to make sure your kids don't into trouble on the Internet. Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Get control. There are tons of parental control products currently available and their features vary as widely as their prices. Before you pick one, decide what and how much control you need. If you have a 6-year-old venturing online for the first time, you want a product that can block inappropriate sites and content, whereas for a 16-year-old you might want a product that also lets you limit screen-time access and notifies you about account changes. Check out this review of three of the leading Internet filter software programs to see which one might be right for your family.
2. Crunch the cookies. If your kids spend anytime on your iPad, consider downloading the free app, Disconnect Kids. It prevents ad networks from leaving tracking cookies on your gadget that can be used to build an online profile of you - or your kids. The site also has excellent videos - for both kids and adults - that explain the nature of cookies and why it's a good idea to block them.
3. Get savvy about searching. Every time you 'Google' something, the search engine collects all kinds of information about you and your computer. Google, like almost every other search engine, records your location, your computer's specific IP address, and the search words you used. Teach your kids to get smarter about surfing by using a search engine such as Duck Duck Go, where you can search anonymously, and avoid the online profiling.
4. To friend or not to friend? Facebook has a minimum age of 13, but that hasn't stopped kids of 12, 10, or even younger from begging their parents for access to the social media site. If you're considering setting up an account for your child, keep in mind, that the age requirement is actually there for good reason. Even with strong privacy settings, a Facebook account opens your child up to a whole new world of issues. You may be able to control the things your child posts, but you can't necessarily control the links, photos, and jokes posted by their 'friends.' Be open with your child about the rules that will govern whether or not he keeps his Facebook account.
5.Teach kids that it's OK not to share. Passwords that is. As well as other important information such as their address, phone number, or account details.
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