This is a very important aspect of keeping your children safe. Don’t just rely on monitoring software to keep your children safe online. More and more of our lives are going to be spent on the web and we need to make sure that the web world is as safe for our children as the physical environment that they live in.
from PC Magazine 2006
Just like the real world there are lots of hazards that face our children online. But with good management these risks can be minimized.
The first step is to create a safe environment for your children to use the internet. As I have mentioned my children are quite young so I need to recognise that at this stage in their life this is primarily my responsibility. Again life online closely parallels the principles of good parenting in the real world.
Make sure they use the computer in a public area. Don’t allow them to use the internet unless you are prepared to supervise them physically. Most parents wouldn’t send their children to another suburb to use a playground by themselves. The same is true of the internet, don’t let them go to an internet site unless you are aware of what that site contains.
Get familiar with the web yourself. Do a bit of research yourself about what are the best sites for kids and set up the computer so that they have easy access to those sites. Firefox has an excellent system for creating bookmarks in a toolbar near the top of the browser. Use this to provide sites that will keep the children’s interest. We tend to use the same sites over and over. I know that I have my favourites that I use to help me in my work and in creating my blog. This also applies to kids, they will mostly want to use the same sites over and over so make sure that you play a big role in choosing those sites.
Set up your search for safety. There will be times when children will need to go outside their familiar areas. This may be for a school research project or they may just be curious about what else is out there. Google has a number of options that you can choose to create a safer search. To do this in Google go to preferences and then choose safe search filtering. You can then choose the filtering level to stop explicit images and text at the extremely safe level. Google is the search engine of choice for most internet users today.
Educate your children about the web. Communication about what is going on is vital. Make sure you talk to your children about some of the dangers of the web. For example by nature they are trusting souls but make sure that they know not to give out their personal details to anyone. Make them aware of the dangers of opening files that they don’t know anything about. Talk to them about the sites they are visiting and let them know that not all websites are good.
Check your browser history.This is not as effective for older children but most younger children will not be aware of the trail they leave in their browser’s history. Even if you have minimal monitoring software you can keep an eye on where they have been by simply clicking on the browsers history button and having a look at all the sites that have been visited. Get to know where you children go on the web.
Set guidelines for their time on the web. Monitor the amount of time they spend on the web. Just like watching too much TV, too much time on the web is not healthy for a child’s overall development. They need to have time to do other creative things as well.