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Ensuring Online Safety of Your Children

The internet is a great way to connect with others, get immediate access to a wealth of information, and get the latest and greatest in family entertainment. Unfortunately, the internet also houses dangers such as explicit material, online predators, and other hazards. But, with a little education and vigilance, parents can make sure that their kids are safe online.

How to Protect Your Child from Internet Dangers

  1. Set rules. Make sure that your teen understands what online sites are off limits. Set clear rules and clearly defined consequences for violating those rules. Spelling out the rules in a technology use contract is an excellent beginning.
  2. Communicate. Talk to your teen about her internet usage and what she may find on the internet. Internet-related news stories that appear on television are often a great way to break the ice and address specific concerns you may have about content on the internet. Make sure that your teen understands that she should come to you she encounters anything on the internet that upsets her or makes her uncomfortable.
  3. Privacy. Make sure your teen understands to never give out personal information like her full name, address, or phone number. Even information like friends' names and what school she attends can give cyber criminals access to her.
  4. Her online persona. If your teen is visiting sites that allow her to personalize her internet experience, make sure you help her create nicknames that are nondescript identities and that don't reveal any personal information.
  5. Keep computers in public locations. Place all computers that are connected to the internet in public locations in your home. This will allow you to easily monitor what your teen is doing on the internet.
  6. Set parental controls. Take advantage of these features to limit the content that your teen is able to access.
  7. Enable pop-up blockers. Making sure that that pop-up protection is enabled on your computer's browser will ensure that your teen is protected from potentially offensive pop-ups.

The most important thing to remember about your teen's online safety is to keep the lines of communication open. Let her know exactly what you expect from her, and make sure she understands that she can come to you with questions and/or concerns about what she encounters on the internet. As a parent, your goal is to ensure that your teen uses the internet in a manner that is both safe and productive.