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In today’s high-tech, ultra-connected world, kids are getting online and surfing the Internet earlier and earlier. While there are many steps you can take as a parent to help your child be safe online, such as implementing parental controls and installing robust security programs, you’ll quickly learn you can’t control everything your child does on the Internet. Instead, you’ll need to equip your children with some tips and guidance to help them know what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Not sure where to begin? Here are a few Internet safety tips all kids should know:
1) Practice safe password habits.
Help your child understand the importance of keeping passwords secure. Make sure they know not to share them with others, post them online, or leave them written down in obvious places. Instead, passwords are meant to be secrets.
You can also help them understand why it’s smart to set a strong password that isn’t easily guessed. For little ones who can’t always remember a more complicated password, you may want to look into password-saving software so they can easily log into their favorite games and websites.
2) Be careful what you share with strangers.
With so many ways to interact with others online, your child will almost certainly find a way to talk to other people through the Internet. Whether that’s through a forum, a chat room, or a video game, the rule is the same: don’t share personal information with anyone you meet online. Full names, birthdates, addresses, and other personally-identifiable information should never be given to a stranger – or even an Internet friend.
3) Listen to your computer’s warnings.
If you have an antivirus program installed on your computer or other safety features, show your children what it looks like when those programs issue a warning and make sure they know what to do when one pops up. Ignoring these warnings is nearly always the wrong course of action and could lead to malware, viruses, and other malicious content being installed on your computer. Teaching your children to alert you, or another adult is typically the right course of action.
4) Ask for permission before installing anything.
This is another smart tip to teach your children – especially if they enjoy watching their favorite shows online or playing computer games. Downloading software illegally is never OK, and installing programs that haven’t been securely purchased and vetted can result in accidentally loading your laptop with bugs, viruses, and other issues that are time-consuming – and expensive – to fix. If your child wants to download or install a new game, they should request permission first.
5) Don’t tolerate cyberbullying.
If your kids are going to be online, they should be able to identify – and report – cyberbullying if it occurs. Cyberbullying can be incredibly harmful to young minds, so it’s important to take steps to keep your kids safe while they browse the web. Learn about the types of cyberbullying they may be exposed to, and see what you can do to minimize your family’s risk. Establishing boundaries around which websites and apps are appropriate to use and encouraging your children to speak up when someone makes them uncomfortable can go a long way here.
Equip your little one with these tips, and they’ll be well on their way to safely navigating the Internet. Have you already put rules and guidelines in place around the Internet in your home? If so, leave a comment and let me know what steps you’ve taken to keep your kids safe online.
Tell me … which of these tips do your kids know? Which do you need to teach them?
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The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in ItsHands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone,Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better,Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers: A Step-by-Step GuideApps All Parents Should Know