How to Keep Your Family Safe Online

Candy Spilman By Candy Spilman, 11th Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2y5nst77/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Internet

Nearly every kid enjoys some sort of internet communication, whether it be email, online gaming or social networks. While this activity can be a lot of fun and possibly even educational, there are dangers that should be addressed before allowing your child access to a computer.

Internet dangers

Internet technology has opened a myriad of doors for its users. With a few clicks of a mouse, anyone can read and learn about a vast array of topics; shop; or even chat with someone on the other side of the world – all from the comfort of home. These are desirable aspects; however, there is a dark side to the cyberworld. Hackers, spammers, sexual predators and cyberbullying are just a few of the issues that users need to be aware of. If there is an Internet connection in the home, there should be some rules established on how to keep the family safe while online.

Children are especially vulnerable, and their computer activity should be closely monitored. Before they are allowed Internet access, an adult should discuss possible dangers with them. Kids should be taught that certain information should be kept private, and that they should immediately notify a parent or teacher if something that happens online makes them uncomfortable in any way.

Safeguarding your kids

It is recommended that the family’s computer be set up in a central location, where parents can casually keep an eye on the sites their child is visiting. If the child has an e-mail account, or an account on a social networking site, the parents should have the password, and monitor the communications. Child molesters and kidnappers often frequent these sites and attempt to lure children into private chat rooms where they can obtain more information. They usually pretend to be young people themselves, and the unsuspecting child can easily be deceived into providing information that would make him or her vulnerable to potential danger.

Some of the information that kids should never give out to a stranger online includes their full name; address; telephone number; their parents’ names or places of employment; the name, location or mascot of their school; what kind of car their parents drive; a description of their home or neighborhood or information such as what sports teams they may play on. They should also be taught never to offer information as to when they are home alone or will be walking somewhere. Parents should encourage their kids to notify them if people they do not know attempt to be friendly with them or ask them questions. Children should also be encouraged to speak up if they are threatened or publicly humiliated while online.

Safe surfing

While there are a number of wonderful web sites for children, there are also many undesirable ones that could be accessed, even inadvertently. For example, if a young boy looking for a page about Marvel superheroes enters the term “Xmen” in a search engine, some of the sites brought up may actually be pornographic in nature. Filters should be set on the computer, and many Internet service providers offer additional safety measures to block undesirable web sites. Software may also be purchased for even more protection.

Watch what you share

Teens’ use of the Internet is a little more difficult to monitor because most adolescents desire to keep their conversations and activities private. Parents should still talk with teenagers and explain the dangers. Even if teens’ private messages are not monitored, parents should be “friends” with their child on social networking sites. This helps enable them to be alert to anything that might suggest that the teen is posting things they should not be, or that a stranger seems to have more than a casual interest in the child.

Even many adults are guilty of sharing things on sites such as Facebook that could get them into trouble. Making one’s birthday public may seem harmless, but it can assist a crook in identity theft. Other things that are recommended by experts to avoid sharing are photographs of your home; pictures of your children; your e-mail address and the fact that you are holidaying. For those who enjoy sharing photos with a select group of friends, most social networking sites have privacy settings. These should always be set for “Friends only” or “Only me”.

Virus protection

An additional hazard of the Internet is the possibility of clicking on a link that downloads a virus to the user’s computer. Before going online, make sure that a reliable virus protection program is installed and run scans regularly. Teach children never to open attachments in an e-mail without an adult’s approval, and never click on links within an e-mail. Be wary when downloading free applications, music or photos from Internet sites and avoid clicking on advertisements.

The Internet can be a wonderful adventure when used responsibly. It is important to keep the dangers in mind and use good judgment when clicking or posting, and parents should help reinforce the rules in their home. With supervision, and common sense, it is possible to keep your family safe online.

Tags

Computer, Family, Internet, Privacy, Safety

Meet the author

author avatar Candy Spilman
Former journalist turned freelancer. I'm a mom and grandma and love to write about family or Christian topics.

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