Internet Safety for Kids: 10 Guidelines to Help You Protect Your Children Online - The Koch Family
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Internet Safety for Kids: 10 Guidelines to Help You Protect Your Children Online

Many kids these days are technically savvy, and their abilities on a keyboard often develop more quickly than their ability to recognize a potential threat. A young person's innocence and natural sense of trust can put her into dangerous situations, especially online, where everyone is virtually anonymous.

Here are ten tips to help you protect your kids when they are using the internet:

1. Install a filter or firewall so that your child can't access potentially harmful sites. It's easy to find filters that are low-cost and even free. Start your search on CNet, which catalogs a number of filters with a variety of features for a child's different ages and stages.

2. Don't leave your kids alone in front of the computer. Allow them to use the Internet only in a common area of your home, where you can see the sites that they are visiting and the types of activities that they are engaged in. While it's important to have a filter on your computer so your child doesn't stumble onto the wrong websites, it's also important to not rely on that filter 100 percent. Some filters don't always block everything, and your child may even have the technical savvy to work around it. You still need to monitor what they are looking at.

3. Let kids know to never give out their name, phone number, address, email address, or password. They should know never to give information that could identify them in any way, such as the school they attend. Make sure they know to ask your permission before entering their email address in an online form or registering on any website.

4. Bookmark family friendly websites or save a link directly to the desktop so their favorite websites are one click away. That will save them from stumbling on the wrong website because of a typographical error.

5. Enable the security settings of your favorite search engines. Google, for example, has a SafeSearch option, which will block websites with sexually explicit content from appearing in the search results. You'll find this option by clicking "Search Preferences" from Google's main page.

6. Keep your kids from triggering malicious popups by using your browser's popup blocker settings. You might also consider disabling Java, depending on the kinds of sites your children visit.

7. Consider creating a family email address (instead of allowing individual ones) so that you can access and monitor emails.

8. Let kids know the importance of not opening emails or downloading attachments from senders whom they don't know. If you allow your kids to use email and instant messaging, reiterate that these services are ways to connect with their existing friends and not a way to make new friends. Emphasize that they should not reach out to strangers online or answer emails from people they don't know. And if they are approached by a stranger online, they should let you know immediately. Instruct your kids to let you know right away if something unexpected happens on the computer (if they get a popup asking them for personal information, for example, or if someone whom they don't know sends them an instant message).

9. Emphasize that, just because something is published on the Internet, it doesn't mean it's a fact. Give children and teens guidelines for discerning which sites are trustworthy and give them examples of sites that you turn to for trustworthy information.

10. Teach your kids what to do if they feel scared or threatened when they are online. Make sure your children know that they can come to you with any problem.


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