We all want our kids to thrive and explore, and the internet can be a great place for them to do so. While there may be plenty of safe, educational and fun websites online for them to discover, there’s also plenty of material we’d rather they didn’t come across. The increasing rise of social networking and the decreasing age of kids using such sites also raises worries for many parents about who their kids are contacting, and how much information they’re putting online about themselves. Be as savvy online as you are off, and you’ll find that it’s not so difficult to protect your children from stranger danger on the web.
As with most parenting problems, communication is key. Talk openly with your child about inappropriate material they might encounter online. Encourage them to share with you any concerns or experiences they might have without fear of punishment. As they get older, your child will inevitably explore the web in ways you may not like, so having an open passage of communication will help you be aware of what’s going on without being having to play the bad guy and restrict their freedom too severely.
If you feel that honesty and openness isn’t sufficient to protect your child, then there are additional measures out there.
There are programs available to help you keep an eye on what’s going on online in your home. Blocking software allows you to set up lists of inappropriate phrases, words and websites that will then be filtered out when your kids are online. These can be applied to web browsing, social networking, video sites like Youtube and emails. The software will also report back to you on what sites your child has been accessing and how long they’ve been spending on the web. You’ll also find basic filters available on your browser where you can set time limits for your kids, and filters are available on some major websites like Google.