Keeping kids safe on the Internet
Since I run an Internet business, I’m interested in the whole online world. And since I’m a mom, I’m very interested in keeping kids safe. So I thought I’d share some information I’ve gathered about how parents and nannies can help kids stay out of trouble when they’re online. Parents need to get involved and set parameters. Nannies need to know what the rules are and enforce them.
First, a few general recommendations-
• Learn about the Internet. Let’s face it, our kids know more about computers and the Internet than we do. So if you’re not online-savvy, try to get up to speed. Maybe your local library, school or community center offers a course you can take.
• Get involved. Spend time with your kids when they’re online. Let them get used to the idea that you’re going to be looking over their shoulder – a lot. Your kids’ best insurance is your involvement.
• Find out what you can do. Educate yourself about parental control tools that can keep your kids safe. Check with your Internet Service Provider to see what they offer. Ask about “blocking and filtering” software at a computer store or consumer electronics store.
Now, let’s talk about email. It’s great that our kids can communicate instantly with friends, relatives and teachers. It’s not so great that they can communicate with creeps and predators.
• Make sure you know how to access your kid’s email account and their password. They’ll howl, but you’ve got to protect them.
• Talk with your kids about who they’re meeting online. It’s another way you need to stay involved.
• Set a rule that your kids never arrange an in-person meeting without you present. And enforce it.
And how about surfing the web? The web is an unprecedented galaxy of information. And an unprecedented source of danger.
• Keep the computer in a family area, so you can better monitor your kids’ web browsing.
• Spend time online with your kids. Find out which sites they spend time on.
• Teach your kids to immediately end any online experience that makes them feel uncomfortable and to tell you about it.
• Establish an atmosphere of trust with your kids by not blaming them for uncomfortable online experiences. Keep the lines of communication open.
Finally, chatting. Chat rooms have their own risks.
• Accompany your kid in chat rooms until she learns your rules.
• Teach your kids never to give out personal information – name, address or anything else that could identify them.
• Explain that people are not always who they say they are.
• Limit your kids to certain chat rooms, or block out chat entirely.
In a way, it’s sad that we have to take such precautions. But on the other hand, that’s our job – whether we’re parents or nannies – to keep our kids safe.
Until next time (hopefully with a more upbeat topic)…