The Internet is a wonderful tool filled with infinite educational possibilities for your child. However, it’s important for both of you to be aware of the risks associated with online activities.
Keep the lines of communication open with your child. When simple censorship or time restraints are placed on the use of technology without discussion, children may find other ways to access it and begin to shut parents/guardians out of their circle of confidentiality.
Asking questions, creating basic Internet safety rules together and putting technology in a high traffic area in your home (instead of in a bedroom), all decrease the risks of negative online experiences.
Here are some things you can do:
- Learn the meaning of words that describe things found online (e.g., blog, podcasting, Instant Messaging).
- Familiarize yourself with chat lingo used by children
- Talk to your children about online safety
- Create a set of rules about using online technologies
- Create and post a family Internet Safety Agreement
- Talk to your children about what to do when things go wrong. Ensure they know who or where to go to for help. You may wish to be their first contact, but for sensitive issues they think you may disapprove of, they may want to speak with someone else they can trust
- Have regular discussions about online activities with your child
- Keep age-appropriate websites in a place that is easy to access
- Help your child identify safe and reliable websites:
- Make sure the author of the website is clearly written somewhere on the site
- Look for a last updated line which is usually included on the website – or you may have to look for a date on the most recent upload (i.e. news article date)
- Look for clues in the website address to ensure reliability (e.g., gov = government site, .edu = educational site, .org = non-profit organization)
- Evaluate what the main purpose of the website is. Is it trying to sell a product or does it just provide information? Does it ask for personal information from the user?