The Internet can be a wonderful resource for children. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other children, and to play interactive games. Children who are old enough to punch in a few letters on the keyboard can literally access the world. However, with this accessibility can come great danger. With one missed keystroke in the search engine, children can be exposed to the wrong types of websites.
Some good general rules, regardless of age, are:
Step 1: Decide where your child can and can't go on the Internet
a. It’s a good idea to visit some sites for children.
b. Pay particular attention when sites collect personal information. Read the privacy statement and, if you don't agree with it, search a little, to find a similar site that doesn't request personal information.
c. Block inappropriate content.
Step 2: Increase your security and privacy
a. Set limits on downloads.
b. Use antivirus and antispyware software
c. Create different user accounts. (You can give yourself an Administrator account and give your children Limited User accounts. Administrator accounts have full control over the computer. Limited Users cannot change system settings or install new hardware or software, including most games, media players, and chat programs.)
Step 3: Monitor where your children go online
It might not be possible to be present whenever your children are online. But it is possible to check later to see where your children have spent their time online.
Step 4: Remind children not to talk to strangers online
Real-time chats, social networking, and instant messaging can be a great way for children to discuss their interests and build friendships but, the anonymity of the Internet can also put children at risk of falling victim to imposters and predators. To help minimize your children's vulnerability, teach them to take precautions such as:
- Use only a first name or nickname to identify themselves.
- Never disclose a phone number or address.
- Never send photographs of themselves.
- Never agree to meet someone they met online without supervision.