Ensuring Your Kids Internet Safety

The internet is an incredible learning resource parents can’t afford to avoid. But it can be a dangerous place. The best way for parents to protect their children online is to understand exactly what their children are doing on the web. Here are a few more things parents can do to ensure their kids internet safety.Exposure to Mature Content: This is probably the first thing that parents think of when they think of their kids internet safety. These include pornography, violent content, etc.The Solution: By legislation, mature websites must identify themselves as such, which makes it easier for web browsers with parental controls (often given to you with by your internet service provider in order to ensure kids internet safety) to restrain the content. There are several tools that focus on online safety that will help any web browser (just research parental control and internet filter software). However, none of these are perfect, and perhaps the best way to work is to work backwards and create a comprehensible list of the sites that your child is allowed to visit.Chat rooms and Instant Messaging: The idea of being able to talk to people all over the country (or the world) is very exciting to the inquisitive minds of children, but the mystery that makes chat rooms enticing is the same element that makes them dangerous; especially because you don’t know who’s talking to your child nor do you know their intentions. The danger here to your kids internet safety is that your child will expose personal information, or that a predator might try to contact your child. There are also video chat rooms (i.e. Chat Roulette) that allow video, which add the danger of exposure to mature content.The Solution: The best thing to do is to educate your child on what information they are and are not allowed to tell strangers on the internet. You may want to ban chat rooms all together for the purpose of your kids internet safety. If you can monitor your child’s usage, instant messaging tends to be benign as users must know each other screen names and thus your child can only chat with people they know.Social Networking: This is the latest trend and it is likely that your child will ask to create accounts on Facebook and MySpace (or even Twitter). The dangers of these websites are similar to those of chat rooms, except that these websites aim to divulge private information as they urge your child to update on their activities (i.e.” at the mall with my friends and no parents”). These websites also makes it easier for anybody to contact or stalk your child potentially hampering your kids internet safety.The Solution: If you choose to allow your child to be a member of one of these websites, make sure you go through the privacy settings with them (this is crucial to your kids internet safety) and talk to them about the dangers of strangers and “status” updates. For further control, make the child sign up with a shared email account, so that at any point you may monitor what they do directly by signing into their account.Online Games: There are thousands of online games available and most of them are fun and safe. If you want your child to avoid certain types of games such as those involving violence, visit the websites yourself and look for suggestions from other parents and trusted resources.Virtual Worlds (also known as MMOs): This is a way for kids to interact with other kids while simultaneously playing online games. These worlds are focused on game-play, so there is not a lot of innate danger (except perhaps addictive playing which can be avoided by setting usage rules). However, there are certain Virtual Worlds that are designed with kids internet safety in mind. These sites provide things such as online football games, and monitors the interaction between users making it a kid friendly virtual world.General Kids Internet Safety Procedures: A good way to ensure your child won’t do anything improper or dangerous is to have the computer they use in a non private place. Setting rules of usage is a good idea as well. These things make it easier to monitor your child and to recognize if he is behaving strangely. If for whatever reason you become worried about your child’s usage of the computer, you can consider using computer monitoring software which will record everything on the screen for a set period of time, allowing you to see everything your child does. Doing all of these things will ensure your kids internet safety.