For all the reasons we love technology, the Internet and social networking there are just as many reasons not to like it – especially when it comes to our kids! Not only are kids more comfortable than most of their parents when it comes to using the web, many of them know more than their parents about settings, the popular sites and how to use them. So, as a parent what are you to do to ensure that while your kids are online that they are safe?
Yep, one word. Education.
Educate yourself and educate your kids. Set guidelines, expectations, boundaries and be prepared to monitor them. Its not a matter of privacy (as in being an invasion of theirs) – its a matter of doing your job as a parent.
Read Deb Ng’s homerun post: Getting Blunt – 16 Things Kids Should Know About Social Networking first! It is by far the best article to date for kids about online safety.
iTwixie.com, my tween daughter’s new favorite site has a great article on keeping kids safe online, too, but with a twist. We know kids are more likely to take risks when in the presence of their friends – like at a slumber party. Their article gives girls tips and solid advice on staying safe while surfing with their friends. (Slumber-ific Sleepovers: How 2 Keep U & UR BFF Safe & Having Fun)
SafeKids.com is another source of good online safety information. Not only do they have a quiz for pre-teens on Internet safety, they also have contracts you can print out that help make sure kids and grown ups are aware of the house rules, safety guidelines and expectations for online use.
The Internet and Social Networking is here to stay. If used responsibly it can be a great way to stay in touch with family, friends, connect with people who share your same interests, and bring the world closer together. And a little bit of education can go a long way.