What can parents, grandparents and other caregivers do to increase the likelihood that their children are safe online? The following are some practical, common sense tips for consideration:
- Talk with your child. With younger children, sit down with them and see what they are interested in and how they use the web. Talk with them about possible scenarios and how they could react to them. The basic message with is if anything happens when they are online that makes them feel uncomfortable to talk with you. Safekids.com has pledges that students and parents may sign that outlines how students will act in a safe manner online.
- Even if your school district provides your child with a computer or iPad for their use, you have the final say regarding appropriate use in your home. Some parents are under the impression that students must have access to school-furnished equipment at all times. However, as the parent or caregiver, you still have the right to establish boundaries and expectations. Work with your school if you have any questions. They want to be a partner with parents.
- Stay vigilant about monitoring use. One of the standard rules of Internet safety used to be ensuring that the family desktop computer stayed in the living room or other main area of the household. However, mobile devices such as smart phones, iPads and other devices can make monitoring in “real time” more difficult. Consider checking the browser history of your child’s device on a frequently basis and checking in with them while they are using the device in other areas of the house.
- Know the passwords of your child’s accounts for sites such as Facebook and Twitter along with email. Monitor their accounts closely for behaviors that don’t meet with the expectations you’ve established.
- “Google” your child’s name to see what shows up in the search. Google searches return both links to websites where your child’s name may appear as well as images. However, be aware that Google searches return results from all over the world which means anyone else with your child’s name will also come up in your search.
- Remind children that they should never post something online or send something in an email that they would not say in person. As adults, we need to help our children learn the skills they need to deal with conflict appropriately.
- Caution your child about meeting people online. Do not share information that may identify who you are and do not arrange to meet anyone you have meet online.
For more information regarding Internet safety, visit the National Crime Prevention Council’s website at http://www.ncpc.org/topics/internet-safety/tips-for-parents.
Jerry Schnabel is the Director of Information Technology with Area Education Agency 267 based out of Cedar Falls. Jerry can be reached at 319-268-7638. Area Education. Area Education Agency 267 serves over 65,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.