Internet Safety for Children

The Internet can be a great resource for children. It can help them learn, have fun, and connect with the world.

Kids can search information in online databases and encyclopedias. Stay in touch with friends and family who live far away. Get informed about news and current events.

It’s important for children to know how to use the Internet. But it’s even more important for them to stay safe while they do. And as great a resource as the Web can be, it can pose a serious threat to your child’s Internet safety if it’s used incorrectly.

There’s lots of fun, educational content online – but there are also inappropriate websites, online predators, cyber bullies and more.

If both you and your children are informed about Internet security, it’s easy to make sure your children are protected. Follow these tips to get your kids online – safely.

Communicate

Communication is the key to making sure your children are practicing good Internet safety. Talk to your kids about what they’re doing online and why. Go online with them whenever possible. Have them show you their favorite sites.

Sign an Internet safety contract with specific guidelines, so you and your children both know exactly what’s okay to do online – and what isn’t.

If your kids feel comfortable talking to you about what they do online, they’ll be more likely to come to you with their Internet safety concerns.

Monitor

Communication is important. But your children might not tell you everything they do online. The only way to ensure your kid’s online safety is to monitor their time online.

Know their account names and passwords, and who they talk to online. Periodically check their browser history. Explore firsthand the sites your child spends the most time on.

The easiest way to do this? Keep your home computer in a high-traffic area like the living room or kitchen. The more you can monitor your kid’s online activity, the better their Internet security will be.

Set limits

The Internet is great. But spending too much time online can take attention away from other important things – like physical activity, schoolwork and friends and family in the real world. Set limits to make sure your children aren’t spending all their time online.

Plan fun activities that don’t require a computer to encourage your children to get offline. Play board games. Start a family book club. Get outside to play.

You can also heighten your children’s Internet protection by setting limits on what your children can access online. Use your Internet service provider and your browser to set parental controls and block certain sites and keywords.

Don’t forget about Internet outside the home

It was easy (or at least easier) to keep tabs on kids online when there were only home desktop computers. But now, children can get online almost anywhere, on any kind of device. Make sure your kids know that Internet protection rules apply at school, at the library and even at friends’ houses.

And don’t forget about devices other than computers. Kids can get online on everything from cell phones to e-readers to gaming consoles. Monitoring their mobile use is just as important for their Internet safety.

Start early

Children are getting online younger and younger. Nearly every classroom across the country has Internet access. And even if you don’t allow computers or mobile devices, chances are your child’s friends have them.

That’s why it’s a good idea to teach your children about Internet safety at a young age. They’ll learn how to tell good, safe sites from inappropriate ones. They’ll learn what is okay to post online, and what isn’t. And most importantly, they’ll learn to come to you with questions and concerns about Internet security.