The internet has become a mainstay in American households – it’s incredibly convenient, and many of us can’t imagine life without it. Even if you try to limit your children’s internet use, they likely require it for school assignments. Like the real world, the cyber world has a dark side. Unfortunately, it’s increasingly easier for kids to stray into it – and for parents not to notice. Phoenix internet sex crimes lawyer, Craig Orent, offers some advice for you learn how to protect your children from dangerous activity online.
It’s essential for parents to play a role in their child’s internet activity. Just as you know everything about their school friends, you should know their online pals, too. It may be mind-numbing to supervise your child’s 50th visit to YouTube and its train videos, but it helps you determine what they’re doing online. It also helps you tackle concerns before they get out of hand. Older children won’t require constant supervision, but it’s still a good idea to check in frequently.
Each family has their own policies about internet use. Decide when they can be online and which sites they’re allowed to visit. You might have them sign a contract agreeing to your house rules. More importantly, make sure your children know about the consequences of breaking the rules. Choose a system that works for your family, and stick with it.
If you have older children with mobile devices, set rules for these, too. Limit the amount of time they spend on social media, and have a conversation at the end of the day about their activity. What did they do? Who did they talk to? Listen to your pre-teens and teens, and react without anger or judgment – even if you hear something you don’t like. You want to keep an open channel of communication, so deal with your feelings in a constructive way.
Though it may be tempting, many parenting experts advise against tracker software. Your child might see this as a violation of trust, and hesitate to approach you with problems in the future.
It’s difficult to teach children something as abstract as privacy online. No matter how many lectures you give them, they won’t fully understand the consequences of sharing personal information. Consider adding these points to your house rules and contract:
When it comes to cyber activity, location is key. Choose a high-traffic, central area for your family computer. This will allow you to check in frequently and see what your kids are doing online.
While you may not want to resort to tracking software, parental controls can help limit what your children are exposed to online. Many internet service providers and search engines offer parental controls for free. Consider revving up your efforts with software. There are many online filters on the market, which add an extra layer of protection and keep questionable content away from your children. As an added bonus, these programs are harder for your tech-savvy children to disable (a knowledgeable kid could easily disable filters in your browser settings).
Keeping your kid safe online requires a constant effort. Keep an open dialogue and continually monitor their activity to ensure they’re using the internet for all the right reasons – without any of the negative stuff.