The number one priority of any parent is keeping their child happy, healthy and safe. The Internet brings a number of risks to the table when it comes to children’s safety; at the same time, forbidding them from going online altogether is impractical. The fact is, the Internet can be a positive and educational tool. Like anything else, some common-sense rules need to be followed. By passing along the following tips and guidelines to children, parents can teach them how to use the Internet in a safe and conscientious way.
Kids should never give out their personal contact information online. Whether it’s published on an online social networking profile, posted to a friend’s wall or sent to somebody’s email address, contact information can be misused and abused in a number of serious ways. A child should never give out their last name, telephone number, school or physical address online.
If a child encounters something strange, disturbing or worrisome online, he shouldn’t investigate it on his own. Instead, he should bring the problem to the attention of his parents. If something troubling pops up on a computer screen while browsing online, kids should notify their parents immediately.
While it’s okay to share personal photos with friends and family members via email, kids should never send pictures of themselves to strangers – even if they think the stranger is a kid their own age. Photographs can be used to identify kids on the street, putting them at serious risk.
In general, it’s not okay to meet up with online friends in real life. If an exception is made, a parent should help arrange the meetup and go along with their child. Kids should be taught that it’s all too easy for an online friend to misrepresent who they are – and that they could be walking into a very dangerous trap.
Strangers aren’t the only people who can cause trouble online. Occasionally, friends and acquaintances may engage in cyberbullying. Children should be taught to report such trouble to a trusted adult right away.
Children should be taught to only open online communications, files and websites that originate from people who they know and trust. Spam messages, unsolicited emails and random, unidentified links should be deleted without being opened.
Kids should be taught to protect their passwords. Passwords should only be given to parents, if requested; it’s not okay to share them with anyone else – even friends.
The Internet is an extension of the real world. One of the best rules to teach your child is that they should never do or say anything online that they wouldn’t do or say in real life. By keeping these simple, straightforward guidelines in mind, kids can go online without putting themselves at risk.