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The Internet is everywhere!  Home, work, on your phone, and even in your car!  With kids getting “online” at younger and younger ages, how does your family maintain safety in today’s online society?

Educate

First, education is paramount.  One of the things my engineer husband again and again told our daughters is “once something is online, it’s there forever”.  Yes, even if you delete that FB post, or Snapchat photo, someone somewhere had the ability to save it.

Tips to Teach

Also, especially with younger kids, who are just starting using the internet, teach them the following:

  • Never share passwords, even with their best friends.
  • Never give out personal information unless a parent says ok.
  • Never meet an online friend in person unless a parent says ok. If your parents do say ok, make it in a public location.
  • Never respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable, and tell your parents if something happens that feels creepy.
  • Explain viruses and malware, and why they should never click on a link or open a message from a stranger without asking first.
  • Never send pictures to strangers.
  • Parents get the passwords of kid’s social media sites and get to see texts until the parents feel, age wise, kids can have their own (and be on the lookout for fake “parent friendly” social media pages).

Time Limits

Time limits are important in kid’s (and adult’s) lives on the Internet.  Make sure a clock or timer is nearby when kids start playtime or surfing.  Remember, the AAP recommends 30-60 min of (all) screen time at most a day.   We all know, that 20 min of playing a game quickly can become 2-3 hours before you know it. When first allowing kids to have online access, put the computer in a central location where all can be seen, like the kitchen or family room.  Privacy settings on phones can be changed for kids, and software is available which allows parents to block or filter websites too. As many nefarious websites are only one misspelled letter away from regular sites (like Disney), this is a good idea!

The Internet is an amazing source of information and fun for all of us, including your kids, but it can also be a dangerous and scary place unless well monitored by parents.  By just teaching the above rules, and keeping a close watch, your kids can be safe!

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