Keeping Your Children Safe When Online
The statistics of the dangers of the internet for children are scary:
• Online crime is the fastest-growing crime in the U.S. and children are the fastest-growing victim group.
• Over 45 million children ages 10-17 use the internet.
• 1 in 4 has seen unwanted pornography.
• 1 in 5 children who use the internet has been sexually solicited.
• Nearly 60% of teens have received an IM or email from a stranger AND half have replied.
The statics of the lack of parental monitoring of their children’s online activity is equally as alarming:
• Estimated that 20% of parents report they don’t supervise their child’s internet use at all.
• Just over half of parents moderately supervise their child’s usage.
• Near 71% of parents stop supervising their children’s use of the internet after the age of 14.
• 72% of all internet-related missing children cases involve a child 15 years or older.
• 62+% of teens report their parents have no idea what they do online.
The damages of dangerous or questionable online behavior can be permanent, and the struggle from the exposures, lifelong.
As aware and concerned parents, we need to be vigilant and always know when our children are online and their activities whether they are on for 5 minutes or an hour. With pop-ups, instant message (IM) and social media, children can be contacted by a stranger or exposed to awful photos and videos in seconds literally.
Teaching our children to be safe online is essential and we must not be naive or think ‘not my child’. You must be one step ahead and become internet savvy as well if you are going to allow your child to be on the internet.
There are several actions you can take to secure safety online for your family.
To avoid having ISPs and others follow you and your children’s activity on the web, one of the best ways around this is to use a VPN. BestVPN.com is a good way to begin effective online security.
Go to your computer settings and set them with parental restrictions and other monitoring features. Most browsers and search engines allow parents to enable child safety features. These features assist in preventing access to sites your children shouldn’t see or be frequenting. If you ever notice any suspicious activity or find inappropriate materials, report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Do Your Research
Monitor and look at your child’s browsing history. Be sure to ask plenty of questions. Know who your child’s online friends are. Sit with your child at the computer from time to time to see what is going on. Teach your child that going online isn’t an activity to do in private. Go to sites you find on the browsing history and look at the ratings and if there are parental controls and features.
Be Aware of Why Your Child is Online and What He/She is Doing
It is important to know what your child is doing online and what sites your child is visiting. Note if your child spends a good amount of time alone online and do not be afraid to ask questions. They need to understand that you are on top of their activity and are monitoring what is going on, not because you want to make them miserable or want control, but because you care.
Emphasize the importance of online dangers to them and make sure they understand that it is never okay to give out personal information online, never to give out where they go to school, or send photos to any strangers, etc. The same should apply to passwords as well. And definitely make sure they should never open emails or open attachments because they could have a virus, which so often is the case.
Set Ground Rules
Setting ground rules about internet usage is very important. Keep a family computer in an open space in a relatively active part of the home and keep any computers out of their bedrooms. This will definitely help in keeping an eye on your child. Be sure to set firm time limits on the computer and stay true to it.
Pay Attention to Your Own Habits
As much as we watch our children, they watch us as well. They often reflect our own habits. So, if they see you online late at night or being secretive, they are going to be curious and want to do the same. Making note of your time on social media and the internet will set a positive example for your kids. Make going online a monitored family activity to help lessen any potential problems.
At Chelsea Academy we do not have computers in our classrooms or assign work that is required to be done online. We understand the importance of timeless learning and choose to have pencils, pens, paper, and books over computers to teach our children. We also know that we live in a time where computers and internet are basically inescapable and will most likely be in the futures of our children’s careers. Knowing and sharing tips that can assist you in helping your child navigate the murky waters of being online, will hopefully make them aware of the importance of safety and awareness when being on the internet now and in the future.
Post by: Elena Patrice, Chelsea Parent and Social Media Professional