Internet Safety – Why It’s Important and What You Can Do

Since your baby is growing up and starting to use a computer, you’re worried about Internet safety. How will you keep your child safe while he’s online? The good news is there are ways to protect your child without taking away technology.

Parental Controls: The great thing about today’s operating systems is that you can set up parental controls. For a Microsoft computer, go to the control panel, then to user accounts, then set up an account for your child. Now go to parental controls where you can set up website restrictions, time limits, game access and program blocking. If you’re a Mac user, open up System Preferences and click the yellow Parental Controls icon. This will give you options for content, mail, time limits and activity logs.

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Set Up a Toolbar: This is a very effective way to help your child stay focused on acceptable sites and avoid aimless browsing. By removing the search box from the toolbar and adding bookmarks to your child’s regular sites, you can help guide them in the right direction. While this method isn’t foolproof, it’s a solid addition to parental controls.

Privacy and Personal Information: This is a serious issue that you need to discuss with your child. Instruct him that he must NEVER, under any circumstances, give out his name, address or other personal information. Today’s kids are smart enough to understand that not everyone is who they say they are, and that they should remember “stranger danger” online just like they would anywhere else. Don’t alarm your child, but do explain that the Internet brings the outside world into your home.

Cyberbullying: Talk to your child about this issue. Explain to him that if anyone ever makes him feel uncomfortable or afraid online, he should to come to you right away. Also make it clear that if he’s talking to friends from school online, he needs to think before typing. Making your child accountable for their actions will help to discourage bad behavior.

Post the Do’s and Don’ts: Younger children sometimes need reminders, so be sure to post the do’s and don’ts next to the computer that your child uses. This should include everything that you’ve discussed with him.

Since open communication is the most important safety measure, don’t be afraid to discuss these important safety issues with your child! If he’s old and smart enough to use a computer, then he’s ready to learn how to do it safely. You owe it to him to help ensure that his online experience is a safe and positive one. Using a computer and the Internet should be very empowering for your child, and by following these safety tips, he will feel confident, independent and safe.

John Winthorp is a freelance writer that blogs about parenting and babysitting FAQs  find out more at http://www.babysitters.net/

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