Keeping Children Safe Online Part One.
Our children will from time to time struggle with their identity and where they fit in no matter how far we build them up. They may not tell us, but it is a rite of passage for any teen, let alone one split between two worlds. Falling victim to a predator is so much easier for our children that it is for other, even high risk, children online.
Boys are just as at risk as girls. We as parents have a God Given Right to go through their accounts, phone and journals. We are parenting, not invading privacy. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t find anything, feel grateful.
The internet. We cannot keep our children from it. In my opinion starting them early with age appropriate activities and teaching internet safety is as important as teaching them to look for cars when they cross the street nowadays.
We want to cover all of our bases from predators to viruses, phishing scams and any other security or privacy issues. These are things you want them learning when they are still using the computer by your side. When you tell them I am doing this and this is why they are far more likely to follow that lead as they grow more independent.
One really important thing to teach them is if you would not say it or do it in person then don’t do it online. Keyboard courage has gotten a lot of kids in a bind. Some even have been snared by online predators or pushed to the point of suicide due to online bullying. They have to understand that there is a real live person on the other end of the line. Just because they feel safe online sparking a conversation with a seemingly friendly stranger doesn’t mean that they are.
The virtual world and the real world will always have a seamless line that connects the two. Even if your child never encounters a predator online, they may have their accounts viewed in the future by schools or jobs.
Setting parental controls will allow you as much freedom as you want them to have, but more importantly it will allow you to look at their history. I personally set the password. This way my child is only online when I know that she is online. She cannot delete internet history without that password, and I do not feel like a spy at all. There are times I am fortunate enough to be mom and friend, but mom trumps friend every time.
I want mine to understand that strangers baring gifts is the same thing as the creeper asking her to find his lost dog for a sucker. I have expectations of the way that she behaves online and they are not much different from those I have of her in the real world. She knows once it is said it can’t be taken back. Nothing is ever really deleted.
She also knows I monitor her activities online, and she knows I do this because I love her. She knows this is not a safe world and that even grown-ups who know how to be careful can get caught up online. Since I started doing this in the early years rather than the rebellious teen years hopefully later down the line I won’t meet too much resistance.
Keep a look out for part two of the series, and in the meantime let us know how you are keeping your kids safe online?
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