The Internet has brought many great benefits, not least is that children have a huge wealth of information to tap into. Schools have recognised this fact and actively encourage them to use the internet to assist with homework.
Unfortunately the Internet also contains a lot of unsavoury information and it is with this in mind that you need to consider how to ensure your children can surf safely. As a start it is beneficial to provide some basic rules for them to follow:
- Encourage your kids to share their Internet experiences with you. Enjoy the Internet along with your children
- Teach your kids to trust their instincts. If they feel nervous about anything online, they should tell you about it
- If your kids visit chat rooms, use instant messaging, online video games, or other activities on the Internet that require a login name to identify themselves, help them choose that name and make sure it doesn’t reveal any personal information about them
- Insist that your kids never give out your address, phone number, or other personal information, including where they go to school or where they like to play
- Tell your kids that they should never meet online friends in person. Explain that online friends may not be who they say they are
- Teach your kids that not everything they read or see online is true. Encourage them to ask you if they’re not sure
- Control your children’s online activity with advanced Internet software. Parental controls can help you filter out harmful content, monitor the sites your child visits, and find out what they do there.
Whilst this will hopefully encourage them to follow “good practise”, I also add to this with some software to monitor and protect them whilst online.There are numerous products on the market but one of the easiest and most effective products is something from the Microsoft stable. It is already installed with Vista and is a free download for Windows XP – Windows Live Family Safety. It is simple but effective and just does what it says on the tin. If your child wishes to access a site not on the “allowed” list then they can send you an email or you can provide access immediately by authorising the request. Having now used it for a couple of months I would recommend it to anyone with kids.