With the school year starting for children all over the lake area next week, our children are going to be using the Internet for research, homework projects, keeping up with sports calendars and chatting with friends. As parents, it is important for us to be aware of what our children are viewing on the Internet. Here are some tips from the software company McAfee’s website www.InternetSafety.com.
1. Become a Net-Savvy Parent… Savvy?
The best safeguard against online dangers is being informed. Jump in and learn the basics of the Internet—read articles, take a class, and talk to other parents. A good place to start with some basics is www.LearnTheNet.com. A good place to stay current with the latest in online technology is www.mashable.com. You don’t have to be an expert to have a handle on your child’s online world.
2. "Chat" with your Kids
Develop an open dialogue so that you can talk with your kids about the benefits and dangers of the Internet. Cultivate an interest in their online activities—their favorite Web sites, online games, and interests. And don’t be afraid to ask your children who they are talking to online and what they are talking about.
3. Agree on a Game Plan
Use the InternetSafety.com Gameplan to formally agree on your family’s guidelines for using the Internet. Post them near the family computer as a reminder. Ensure that your kids know to never share personal information on the Internet and that they should tell you about any online activity or contact that makes them uncomfortable.
4. Protect your Computer
Take advantage of the software that exists to help parents manage their children’s computer experience. In only a few minutes, parental control software can block inappropriate websites, restrict the amount of time that your kids use the Internet and monitor their Instant Messenger chats to protect against predators.
5. Explore the Internet as a Family
With a game plan and a protected computer, you can now encourage your family to take advantage of all that the Internet has to offer. Take a genuine interest in what your kids are doing and stay engaged with them online.