Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet

The Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids and play interactive games. But that access can also pose hazards to your children. Here are a few tips.

  1. Be involved - Consider activities you can work on together, whether it be playing a game, researching a topic you had been talking about (e.g., family vacation spots, a particular hobby, a historical figure), or putting together a family newsletter. This will allow you to supervise your child's online activities while teaching good computer habits.

  2. Keep your computer in an open area - If your computer is in a high-traffic area, you will be able to easily monitor the computer activity. Not only does this accessibility deter children from doing something they know is not allowed, it also gives you the opportunity to intervene if you notice a behavior that could have negative consequences.

  3. Set rules and warn about dangers - Make sure your children know the boundaries of what they are allowed to do on the computer. These boundaries should be appropriate for the child's age, knowledge, and maturity, but they may include rules about how long they are allowed to be on the computer, allowable sites, what software programs to use, and what tasks or activities they are allowed to do. You should also talk to children about the dangers of the internet so that they recognize suspicious behavior or activity. The goal is not to scare them, it is to make them more aware.

  4. Monitor computer activity - Be aware of what your children are doing on the computer, including which web sites they are visiting. If they are using email, instant messaging, or chat rooms, try to get a sense of who they are corresponding with and whether they actually know them.