Spring is here but before you know it summer will be upon us. For parents, that means keeping kids busy during their long break from school. Summer activities abound but chances are kids will still have a lot more time to spend online without adult supervision. Now’s the time to put a game plan in place to ensure that your children’s online experience is safe for the times you can’t be looking over their shoulders.
SafetyWeb (www.safetyweb.com) has some great suggestions on how parents can do help keep kids safe.
*Plain and simple, communicate – Thanks to mobile devices, reaching out to your kids is easier than ever, most anytime or anywhere. For working parents in particular, the ability to check in with your kids when you can’t be face to face is key to keep track of their activities but also to keep the lines of communication open if any issues arise. An ongoing discussion of how they are using technology is a key step to help keep them safe in cyberspace.
*Establish guidelines -- Clearly explain when they can or cannot use the Internet. Limiting the length of time that your children can be online will encourage them to seek out the information instead of just aimlessly surfing the Internet.
* “Block and Talk” – Parental blocks and filters are a must to help keep kids away from inappropriate content but also take the extra step to discuss what websites are appropriate and what kinds of websites to stay clear of on the Internet. Monitoring tools are very important but will be most effective when coupled with parental supervision.
*Keeping Information Private – Here at SafetyWeb (www.safetyweb.com) we mention this often, but it can’t be said enough times, that kids need to be aware of what not to share on social networking sites. Phone numbers, addresses and other similar personal information should never be shared on Facebook or other sites where the general public can gain view it.
*Computers Need Protecting Too -- Educate kids on how to also keep their computers safe in addition to themselves. Free downloads of music, videos and games are often a temptation to take advantage however these sites can be a lurking ground for cybercriminals. It is recommended to instruct your kids to get your permission before downloading any content form the Internet.
The bottom line is these guidelines should be applied year round however with most kids having more free time on their hands in the summer months it is a critical time to make sure they are in place and being implemented.