The internet is a great resource for education, but there are a lot of things out there that we would rather our children not be exposed. And not just our children, but ourselves too!
It is important to have a conversation with your children about internet safety. Let them know that using the internet is just like any other useful practice, like crossing the street. With a few simple guidelines in place, the internet can be a place of learning and adventure. But without rules, our minds can be exposed to dangerous words and images. Certain words and images can be just as physically damaging to our brains as getting hit by a car is to our bodies.
There are few best practices for safe internet usage that we would highly recommend:
Download AdBlock Plus. This plugin for your browser is free and restricts ads and pop-ups according to your settings.
Enable safety mode for YouTube. You can use safety mode to help screen potentially objectionable content on YouTube.
Instruct your children to never download or upload anything without talking to you first.
Show your children what ads look like, and tell them to never click on them. If they accidentally click, get help immediately.
It is probably best to have children under 12 avoid chatting-type programs altogether, but if you child is going to be engaging with others during their computer time, make sure they know to never give out personal information, agree to meet offline, or share files or photos without your help. Remind them that kindness, manners, and appropriate behavior is just as important in the virtual world as it is in the real world.
Make sure your children know how to “X” out of windows so they can quickly navigate away from harmful sites and pop-ups. Let them know that they can talk to you about it too, just in case there is a setting you can change to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Be available to your children while they are online so they will always feel comfortable coming to you. You don’t have to sit right next to them, but they should know you are always ready and willing to help.
Lastly, make being on the computer a positive thing, not a scary thing surrounded by rules and mystery. Your attitude towards the guidelines your family follows is just as important as the guidelines themselves. And happy internet exploring! 😀