1. Set Rules.
Determine what your child needs to use the computer for. This could be school-related or just for entertainment. Make sure your child knows what he or she is and is not allowed to do on the computer. Boundaries can be set based on a child’s age and maturity level and can include site restrictions, program use, and activities. Establish consequences for breaking the rules.
2. Make a Pact.
Create a family contract regarding Internet use. This document can contain house rules about online conduct. Basic templates can be found online, and you can modify the document to include your childrenís input when preparing a final draft. You may also want to include facts and statistics about online safety to remind children of the dangers. Have children read and sign the contract, and post it near the computer area for easy reference.
3. Take the Quiz.
Many Internet safety websites offer online multiple-choice quizzes that children can take to test their knowledge about being safe online. After discussing Internet safety with your child, suggest they take one of the quizzes to show you what they know.
4. Create a Schedule.
While the Internet can be fun and useful, children should be involved in activities outside of using a computer. One child using the Internet more than others can also result in jealousy and arguments. Make a schedule with fair time limits to allow all family members to have access to the Internet when necessary. Determine time limits based on how much Internet use is necessary for homework and other activities. Outside of homework research, no more than an hour online daily could be a good rule of thumb.
Keep the computer in an open, family area instead of in a child's bedroom. This will make it easier to keep an eye on their activities. If there are multiple computers in your home, consider designating one as a family computer and password restricting access to the others.
Until you are confident that rules can be followed, do not let children use the Internet unless a parent is a home to monitor activity. Passwords to block access to the computer can be used to enforce this practice.
Be sure that personal computers and laptops are equipped with virus detection software that scans and updates on a regular basis. A good program will also monitor spyware and alert you of any threats.
Set the Internet browser to block pop-up websites and advertisements. This will allow for cleaner web surfing, as well as minimize the chances of children viewing offensive material.
9.Limit Browser Functionalities.
Modify Internet browser settings so they do not automatically save website information, like usernames and passwords. Clear cookies and temporary Internet files on a weekly basis.
10. Protect Wireless Networks.
If wireless Internet access is used, protect the wireless network connection with a password and firewall to keep unwanted users out.
11. Consider Kid-Geared Browsers.
Several companies have created browsers made specifically for younger users. These Internet browsers feature built-in filtering capabilities to protect young eyes from the unwanted and explicit material. Browsers like Glubble and Buddy Browser include features to disable external chat and encourage media sharing and social interactions with family and other people the child already knows.
12. Suggest Family-Friendly Websites.
Find educational and wholesome websites for your child to visit, and add them to a bookmark list. Show your child how to access the bookmark menu to view the sites. Good suggestions include the websites for your child's favorite educational television programs, government-sponsored educational websites, and school or community websites.
13. Create Separate User Accounts.
If a home computer is used by all family members, it may be a good idea to give a unique log-on identifier to each user. This can help minimize the risk of important files or folders being accidentally deleted by kids. Parents' user accounts should have full rights to view and change all files saved on the computer, as well the ability to add or delete users.
14. Create Solid Passwords.
Teach children to create passwords that are easy for them to remember but difficult for others to guess. Strong passwords will include numbers and letters, and should not be obvious (like a name and birth date.) Teach children how to enter their password when logging in, and show them how to make sure that the Caps Lock is not engaged if the password is case-sensitive.
15. Change Passwords Regularly.
Get in the habit of changing the password for computer access and websites on a regular basis, every 60 days or so. Be sure that all family members update passwords by scheduling a day when everyone makes their changes.
16. Know Your Kids' Passwords.
Keep a list of websites your child uses and the usernames and passwords for each. This is useful for monitoring their activity and reminding them of a password when it is forgotten. Make sure they give you're their new password if they change it.
17. Protect Passwords.
Teach children not to share their usernames or passwords with friends and strangers. Their passwords should be known only by them and their parents. Have them change their password if it is discovered by someone else.
18. Program Installation.
Don't allow kids to install new programs unless supervised. Knowing what is being installed on the computer and where it came from can prevent the risk of virus infection. Adult installation of new programs will also ensure that new programs are installed correctly.
19. Learn from Kids.
Since Internet use is so prevalent in schools, children might know more about the technology than parents do. If you need help understanding how certain sites or programs work, kids are always proud to share their knowledge.
20. Secure Sites.
Teach children to recognize secure sites by looking for the "https" prefix. Many browsers also display a padlock or green address bar when a site is secured. Most browsers will display a warning when a website's security certificate is inconsistent or expired. Teach children to avoid sites when a security warning is displayed.
Keep software and hardware up to date. When latest technologies are used, the computer will run more smoothly and be less susceptible to hackers and viruses.
22. Close Browser Windows Correctly.
Teach children to log off of sites that require a username and password instead of simply closing the browser window. Officially logging off is secure, and it ensures that private information does not remain viewable to hackers or third-parties.
23. Explain Risks.
Teach children about online dangers, like sexual predators and cyberstalkers. Children will have a better appreciation for the family Internet usage rules if they understand that the rules are not created to keep them from having fun, but intended to protect them from harm.
24. Don't Talk to Strangers.
Children are naturally trusting and will talk online with anyone who seems friendly or nice. As in real life, remind children not to talk in a chat room or via e-mail with anyone they do not know. If children are approached by strangers in a chat room, instruct them not to respond and to tell you about the encounter immediately.
25. Don't Take Anyone at Face Value.
Internet predators are known for posing as children in chat rooms to lure real kids into conversations. This tactic often results in children exposing more personal information than they would to an adult stranger. Instruct children to always be cautious about anyone they meet online.
26. Know Who to Call.
If a child is being stalked or threatened online, contact police with the user's screen name and any other given information. If a child is bullied online by a classmate, contact the bully's parents. If parental control
software is not working correctly, contact the manufacturer's technical support department for assistance.
27. In-Person Meetings.
Do not allow children to meet online friends in person. This can be difficult for young children to understand, especially if they feel they "know" the person from multiple online conversations. If they insist on meeting an online friend, accompany your child and meet in a public place.
28. Role Play.
Use role-playing to reinforce how children should act when approached on-line by someone they do not know. Practice what to say and not sharing personal information. Teach them to feel comfortable ignoring strangers or exiting chat rooms when approached. Also, review how they should handle cyberbullies. This practice will make your kids feel more comfortable if the time comes when they need to deal with the real thing.
29. Too Good to Be True.
Educate children on how to avoid Internet scams, like moneymaking schemes, chain emails, and false charities. Children can be naÔve to these ploys and often get taken advantage of. If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't.
30. Express Discomfort.
Let children know that they can tell you if anything they saw online made them feel uncomfortable. This can include photos or conversations in chat rooms. Do not get angry at them for seeing something they shouldn't have seen. Instead, thank them for bringing it to your attention.
Tell children to let you know if anyone on-line asked them to engage in a conversation or activity that was to be kept secret. Explain that there is no reason to keep a promise with a stranger, especially when the stranger specifically says not to tell parents.
32. Be Fair.
Don't punish children for their friends' bad online behavior. Only enforce consequences for actions that your child actually does. This will help to maintain your child's trust that they can tell you about things that happen to them online.
33. Photo Sharing.
Tell children never to send a photo of themselves to anyone they do not know. Explain that when strangers learn more information about a kid's appearance, hometown, age, etc. it can make it easy to find children and hurt them.
34. Photo Safety.
If children post photos to their website or social network page, ensure that the photos do not contain identifiers, like house numbers or car license plate numbers. Although a single photo may not seem harmful, predators can use information from a collection of photos to determine a child's home or school location.
35. Maintain Privacy.
Tell children not to share personal information on-line. This includes their last name, phone number, address, or school name. If this information is required for registration with a website, kids should check with parents first before supplying the information.
36. Cost Containment.
Don't give children credit card numbers to use for online purchases or website registrations. An adult should always supervise any financial transaction online to ensure that the website is legitimate and secure.
37. Online Auctions.
On-line auction sites, like eBay, do not require credit card information to establish an account. Children can sign up and bid on items without realizing that they are entering a contractual obligation to purchase.
If your child has a phone or music player with online capabilities, be sure that they understand that the same Internet rules apply, whether on the pc or on a handheld device. If internet access on a smartphone is too much freedom, disable the service or install a parental control application.
39. Apps Add Up.
Require parental approval before children download applications to their smartphones. Not only could the app's content be inappropriate, but the cost of multiple applications can result in a shocking expense on the monthly phone bill.
40. Consider Parental Controls.
The software is available to block unwanted content from the Internet. These programs generally block pornography and violence, but can also be customized to block specific websites or website categories. Adults can use a password to access all sites. Keep in mind that kids may be so familiar with the Internet that they can find ways around parental controls. Be sure to pick a strong password that your children won't figure out.
41. Less Obvious Sites.
While parents may immediately think of blocking access to pornography, there are other websites that children should not be exposed to. Don't forget to restrict access to sites depicting dangerous activities, drug use, and hate. Depending on age and maturity level, you may also want to block shopping websites.
42. Be Involved.
Know what websites your child visits and be involved in his or her online activities. Ask your child to show you his or her favorite sites and explain why he or she likes them. Spend time together looking at websites on the Internet and finding new appropriate sites to visit.
43. Learn Chat Room Abbreviations.
The abbreviations kids use when chatting can seem like a foreign language to parents. Get to know the acronyms used in chat rooms and instant messaging so you can tell just what they are talking about. Research online can help you decipher the meanings of many abbreviations, or you can ask your child to teach you what those letters mean.
44. Type Carefully.
Make sure that children use care when typing an URL into the browser's address bar. Some predatory websites purposely choose close spelling variations of legitimate websites just to expose children to explicit material. Children should also mind the various extensions; completing an url with .net instead of .com will lead to a completely different website than the one intended.
45. Have a Purpose.
Do not allow random web surfing. This often leads to children visiting inappropriate sites that were linked from another site or found from a web search. If your child can not describe exactly what he or she needs to use the Internet for, don't let him or her use it until the purpose is explained.
46. Know Your Child's Friends.
Get to know your child's chat room and social networking friends just like you would learn about his or her real-life friends. Find out which ones are online-only friends, how old they are, and how your child met them. Being involved in your child's social circle will help you to recognize any unusual signs as early as possible.
47. Know the Source.
Remind children not to open up emails, attachments or links that come from anyone they do not know. If they do not know the person who sent the email, they should delete the message without reading it.
48. Be Skeptical.
Teach children not to believe everything they see online. Content is not regulated, so nearly anyone can post information regardless of whether or not it is true. Encourage use of reputable sources for homework assignments, including sites with the .org, .edu, and .gov suffix.
49. Know the Difference.
Young children may have difficulty separating online life from living in the real world. This can be especially confusing when the child is involved in role-playing games with avatars. Maintain a healthy balance of real life and Internet use to reinforce the separation.
50. Family E-mail.
Create an e-mail address that all family members can share instead of giving young children their own e-mail address. This will allow parental monitoring of e-mails as the child learns more about how to use the Internet.