Internet security for children
INTERNET SECURITY FOR CHILDREN
By Michael Bozeman | M.A.C.E., MA, LPC
Parents these days seem to have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. It can be an amazing tool that helps children learn, and also a great “babysitter” at times. Although having the Internet readily available on most devices can be convenient, it is crucial that parents understand how dangerous it can be when they are not vigilant to monitor their children’s activities. Understanding the risk is key, as well as educating yourself to the very changing climate of technology.
TALK WITH YOUR KIDS ABOUT WHAT YOU EXPECT FROM THEM WHEN IT COMES TO HOW TO USE THE INTERNET IN A SAFE AND APPROPRIATE WAY.
Handing your child a device that has Internet potential without teaching them the best ways for them to be safe is setting them up for failure. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had with parents that were shocked when they found out how their children were utilizing their devices. Most of the time they were honest in their assessment that they never had conversations concerning their expectations concerning such devices.
Make sure that you keep control when it comes to the way the Internet is filtered in your house. There are great programs that parents can buy that will allow them to control things like time management on the Internet, sites that are available to the child, times of day the child can be on the Internet, etc.
A program called Circle is one of the best I have seen used. This is a wonderful tool for parents to have complete control of the Internet inside the walls of their home. Parents need to be consistent in checking in with their children on how they are utilizing the Internet.
Parents taking a proactive approach to all things concerning the Internet help to promote healthy Internet behavior in their kids. When setting boundaries, allow your kids to have a voice before these boundaries become the law of the house. This will allow your child to feel a part of the process and will make it much more manageable when you have to correct behavior.
Parents also need to lead their family in using social media appropriately. They should set the standards on what is appropriate to post on social media sites. The truth is that something posted on social media not only reaches the people you want it to reach, but also has the potential to reach people you never intended to reach. With that in mind, parents always need to be mindful about what they are posting and tagging their children in across all social media platforms.
Some practical tips I could give any parent are:
Be willing to educate yourself on things you do not know. Parents are oftentimes at a disadvantage in the technology arena, as their kids have grown up in a more technologically-advanced environment.
Set house rules with your child’s help, and enforce them at all cost.
Teach your child how to protect their privacy when they are online. This will probably be something parents will have to learn themselves!
Monitor your own social media, making sure you are not setting a double standard for your child.
Keep computers in locations in the home that are easily monitored.
Seek out software that will help you in your fight to keep your children safe online.
Michael Bozeman is a Licensed Professional Counselor for Pathways Professional Counseling, serving in central and northeast Alabama.