Parents Guidelines to Computer Safety for Kids
Computer safety for kids was not an issue when I was growing up. Remember back when we were kids? You were lucky if there was just one computer in the classroom to use, let alone a computer at home. Now, it seems there is a computer for everyone everywhere we look. Over 75% of homes now have computers and are wired to the Internet with many of these at high speeds. Shipments of personal computers in 1971, totaled about only 48,000, as compared to 1 billion in June of 2008.
With the surge of surfing the net and personal computers at home, safety for children online has become a must. Although, we would like to think that everyone is publishing safe and useful content for kids, this is not always the case. So in addition to locking the doors to keep your children safe, now you need to put up defenses when it comes to computer safety for kids. Here are some guidelines to help you and your children stay safe while online.
Computer Safety for Kids Tip #1 - Communication
Now more than ever computer usage is an important topic for parents to have with their children. Just like teaching them safety tips about talking to strangers, smoking and other things that we all discuss, talking about computer safety at an early age can keep them safer. Communicating with your child about online predators is your first line of defense. Sit down with them and explain how important it is to only communicate online with people they know and trust. Tell them to never give out personal information like phone numbers, address and even their name. Explain that while the Internet is very useful for homework assistance, keeping up with what their friends are doing and for finding fun activities, it is also a dangerous place when you don't know what to watch for.
Computer Safety for Kids Tip #2 - Keep it in Plain Sight
Keep computers in open areas, where you can see when and how your child is using the computer. Place the computer in a den or family room with the monitor clearly visible. If there is a computer in your child's room, make it a rule that the door must be left open when they are searching the web. This may seem like an invasion of privacy to your kids (especially teenagers) but they will be less likely to search and find inappropriate websites, if there is a risk that mom or dad may walk by and see what they are searching. So keep the shared computers in plain sight and the bedroom doors open for their own personal computer use.
Computer Safety for Kids Tip #3 - Set the Rules
Computers now come equipped with parental control capabilities. Take advantage of this technology and set the rules on the computer. Unlike children who sometimes ignore the rules or try to get around them, when you configure the rules directly on the computer, the computer sticks to the rules. Parental controls stop them from accessing pages that have potential adult content on them or could be potentially harmful to your child or computer. In addition to the standard parental controls that may come with your computer, you can also install additional software like McGruff Safeguard, ContentBarrier X4, and KaZipster. These software packages can monitor their time online and prevent them from receiving explicit materials and also prevent them from sending any personal information.
Computer Safety for Kids Tip #3 - Keep it Personal
Personal information should be just that - personal. There are many websites that ask kids to enter personal information, to sign up for contests or to join in order to use parts of the website. However, this personal information should be kept a secret. Your child should not provide any information such as street address, phone number or even last name without checking with you first.
Forms that ask this much information should only be completed by an adult and only after the adult has looked over the site and deemed it safe. When kids give out any information about themselves, it can lead a predator to their front door. Have kids ask a parent or adult before filling out any questionnaires or forms online that require such information. Set up a common email address to use for completing these forms that you have access to. This should be the only email address they use, when completing these forms. Use filters on these email accounts, so as not to receive unwanted spam such as pornographic emails. Only an adult should have the capability of adding to the address book and unblocking/blocking email addresses.
Remember, computer safety for kids begins at home and requires you as the adult to get involved. So talk to your kids, watch what they are surfing, set up controls and keep your child's personal information "offline" for your child's internet safety.
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