My four-year-old son is in his second year of preschool. We love his school, and his teachers. It's been a joy to see him blossom since he first began school, last September. This summer, as we looked over the school supply list, we noticed there there were a few wish list items for the classroom, which included gift cards, so the teachers could use them to purchase apps for the classroom tablets. I just smiled and shook my head, realizing that it wouldn't be long before my sweet munchkin would need to use the internet for homework, and class projects.
At just four years old, my son is already interested in playing games online, with parental supervision. I shudder to think ahead to a few years down the road, when he'll be using the internet on his own. It seems as though it's more important than ever to set rules and boundaries when it comes to kids being online. Social media makes it easier than ever to share information with the world. For parents, it's so important to know who your kids are talking to and interacting with online. I remember when instant messaging was a hot new trend, and having my parents peering over my shoulder when I was online using AOL. I found it annoying at the time, but looking back, I know that I am blessed to have parents who cared so much about my safety as a teen.
Here are a few tips on how to keep your child safe online...
Supervise. If you're child isn't old enough to be online on their own, be nosy- it's your right as a parent. Sit beside them and pay attention to what they're doing, asking questions.
Set rules. Allow your children to be online only within a time frame that you are able to supervise them. Don't allow them to be online with friends over, unless they are working together on a project. Set ground rules for social media- kids don't need their own social media profiles or accounts. Make a list of approved websites your children have your permission to visit and use.
Consider using a parental control software. Doing so will allow you to monitor your child's online activity, making it easy to see which sites they have visited, who they have been interacting with, and so on.
Set up automatic forwarding on their e-mail account. If you're worried about what type of information your children may be submitting via e-mail, you can set up automatic forwarding on their account, which will send a copy of each e-mail sent from their account to your own account.
Last but not least, talk to your kids. Have an open, honest conversation about your expectations, family rules, and consequences. Be sure to discuss topics like cyber bullying, downloading, uploading, file sharing, info sharing, etc.
You can never take too many precautions when it comes to how to keep your child safe.