Being armed with the combination of good information and good judgment is particularly important when you allow your child to be online. Talking to your kids regularly about how to be safe goes a long way. Even if you think they aren't listening, some or all of what you tell them is bound to sink in. So the more you can make the topic of keeping safe online a part of your day-to-day conversations, the more you provide your child the building blocks for a fun, enriching and safe online experience.
Although it is up to each parent to develop the rules that best apply to your child, there are some fundamental household rules that every parent should think about including.
? Keep the computer in a central location in the home instead of a child's bedroom.
? Anything that makes a child feel uncomfortable should be shared with a parent.
? Do not believe everything you read on the Internet.
? Children cannot meet people they meet online without a parent.
? Do not share passwords with anyone, including friends.The best way to teach online safety is to provide tips that are directly relevant to your child's specific online activities and interests. For example: if your child likes to share pictures, ask about their favorite sharing sites. With whom do they share pictures? What types of pictures do they share? Then continue the conversation by asking if they know what happens to pictures once they are posted online: Are they setting privacy preferences for their pictures? Do they know what happens if they don't have privacy settings in place? There are a number of ways to start the conversation. Check out the Parent Resource Center from our friends at ikeepsafe.org for some great ideas on introducing online safety to your family.
Another tip: Keep the conversation two-way. In other words, encourage your child to ask questions and even challenge your advice. This is particularly effective as they get older. Few things are more off-putting to a teen than being lectured in a one-sided "talk" where they have no input. Your challenge will be ensuring your teen doesn't feel they are being cross examined when you start inquiring about their online activities. The earlier you start regular conversations (not lectures) about online safety, the more at ease and receptive your child will be as they grow.