The Internet today is a far cry from what it was when I was growing up. I remember when AOL was what everyone had to have and the only connection available was dial-up. Now everything is online and I mean everything, it can be kind of overwhelming for parents. I turned to a few experts to see how we can go about keeping the Internet safe for our kids.
Since I run an Internet business, I’m interested in the whole online world. And since I’m a mom, I’m very interested in keeping kids safe. So I thought I’d share some information I’ve gathered about how parents and nannies can help kids stay out of trouble when they’re online. Parents need to get involved and set parameters. Nannies need to know what the rules are and enforce them.
First, a few general recommendations
- Learn about the Internet. Let’s face it, our kids know more about computers and the Internet than we do. So if you’re not online-savvy, try to get up to speed. Maybe your local library, school or community center offers a course you can take.
- Get involved. Spend time with your kids when they’re online. Let them get used to the idea that you’re going to be looking over their shoulder – a lot. Your kids’ best insurance is your involvement.
- Find out what you can do. Educate yourself about parental control tools that can keep your kids safe. Check with your Internet Service Provider to see what they offer. Ask about “blocking and filtering” software at a computer store or consumer electronics store.
Now, let’s talk about email
It’s great that our kids can communicate instantly with friends, relatives and teachers. It’s not so great that they can communicate with creeps and predators, So:
- Make sure you know how to access your kid’s email account and their password. They’ll howl, but you’ve got to protect them.
- Talk with your kids about who they’re meeting online. It’s another way you need to stay involved.
- Set a rule that your kids never arrange an in-person meeting without you present. And enforce it.
And how about surfing the web?
The web is an unprecedented galaxy of information. And an unprecedented source of danger, So:
- Keep the computer in a family area, so you can better monitor your kids’ web browsing.
- Spend time online with your kids. Find out which sites they spend time on.
- Teach your kids to immediately end any online experience that makes them feel uncomfortable and to tell you about it.
- Establish an atmosphere of trust with your kids by not blaming them for uncomfortable online experiences. Keep the lines of communication open.
Chat rooms have their own risks, So:
- Accompany your kid in chat rooms until she learns your rules.
- Teach your kids never to give out personal information – name, address or anything else that could identify them.
- Explain that people are not always who they say they are.
- Limit your kids to certain chat rooms, or block out chat entirely.
In a way, it’s sad that we have to take such precautions. But on the other hand, that’s our job – whether we’re parents or nannies – to keep our kids safe.
Next up is Robert Siciliano, Security Consultant with ADT.com
All the advice one hears when told how to keep your kids safe on the internet from your home computer goes out the window when a mobile phone and other portable devices are introduced into the child’s life.
The sage advice was to put a PC in the living room and monitor your kids activity. Today that becomes impossible when there are tablets, iPads, mobile phones, laptops, online games and webcams. All these technologies provide new opportunities for the bad guy.
Child predators are often those who gravitate towards trusted positions in society where they have direct access to kids. Others hang out in Internet chat rooms and slowly groom their victims. Now many of them are on hundreds of different social networks.
In 2010 the CyberTipline received more than 223,000 reports of nefarious online behavior._“The increase in the number of reports of child pornography and online sexual solicitation of children is alarming,” said Ernie Allen, President & CEO of NCMEC. “The child pornography images we are receiving are becoming more violent and the victims much younger. We are even seeing infants being sexually abused.” _
With the openness of social media, predators know what a kid likes, doesn’t like, who their friends are, and often their phone numbers, where they live, go to school, sports teams they play on etc. The list goes on and on.
Many of today’s social media sites are also incorporating location based services which allow the user to broadcast their location via a Smartphone or their home. Pictures and status updates can be tagged with relatively accurate positions giving way to much information for the criminal.
MissingKids.com suggests Allowing kids to go online without supervision or ground rules is like allowing them to explore a major metropolitan area by themselves. The Internet, like a city, offers an enormous array of entertainment and educational resources but also presents some potential risks. Kids need help navigating this world.
Check out the following video of Robert talking about identity theft, I know it’s not on topic right now, but it’s worth a quick watch.
Alexis Moore of Survivors in Action offered up these tips (after reading this post head over and check out her site, it’s phenomenal!)
The best advice is for parent’s, educators, caregivers and others in the youngsters lives to be pro-active and not expect the technology companies to protect their children. This means being proactive in taking steps as parents and caregivers to ensure safe guards are implemented from home and as educators that the schools address topics like cyberbullying, cyberstalking and internet safety at an early age addressing that all children need to be aware of the dangers and not take for granted that they are safe and that it is up to the entire community as a large to do their part to help make the experience on these Apple products as safe as possible.
- Monitoring their children is also vital either directly or indirectly
Using free products for online monitoring like McGruff Safeguard is one way that all parents can take a proactive step to protect their children
- Communication open up the dialogue often as possible about tech today and hidden dangers – communicate with the children is vital~Parents, teachers, caregivers, coaches and others need to be actively communicating with the children to discuss dangers of social networking and engage with the child regarding what they know about dangers and find out if there child or childs friends have had any incidents, issues etc
Apple as a duty on their part to help keep their users safe however there is not yet a clear line in the sand in regards to what a tech companies responsibility truly is. This will take time to develop and implement as any law suits for damages sustained by users are filed and litigated and the companies liability will also be determined legislatively as public policy changes evolve and are implemented.
The best advice to offer readers of all ages and to those who are parent’s, caregivers and involved with children is to be proactive and to do all they can to ensure safety measures are taken on their end not depending upon tech companies to make products safe for children because frankly there is no 100% product that is safe for any child with the www -wild wild west of the internet dangers of today.
I hope all of the tips that our experts offered are helpful. I’m a far cry from an expert in this field, my kiddos are only 3 so we have yet to worry about this. For all of you parents out there that have older multiples, what do you do to keep the Internet safe for them?