The Internet is not as dangerous a place for children and teens as we previously thought, according to a recent law enforcement task force report. Real threats remain, however, and parents need to educate themselves and their children about online safety and privacy.
Be aware of Internet safety.
There are six major areas parents need to be concerned about:
- Amount of overall Internet/computer use
- Inappropriate websites—violence, pornography, hate groups
- Internet predators, perhaps posing as children or teens
- Online abuse and bullying
- Divulging confidential family information or ID numbers
- Downloading/installing malicious software
Create a family policy.
Your Internet policy will depend on how old your kids are and what level of individual responsibility you’re willing to grant them. The point is to have a policy.
- Use parental controls (see below) to enforce the level of safety you’re comfortable with.
- Ask the child to suggest a reasonable amount of daily computer usage. Reach agreement on this and then hold the child accountable. Renegotiate if necessary—again, the point is to have an agreed standard, not to expect that the limit will never be exceeded.