Written by Patricia Shuler
Kids are experiencing a new world online; help them navigate it safelyMost parents find themselves making up the rules for online behavior as they go. Our parents didn't have to deal with this, so we don't have much of a precedent to work with.
Whichever strategy you use to help your kids develop a healthy attitude toward technology, it's always best to lead by example.
Here are a few ways to demonstrate productive, safe, and healthy online behavior for your kids.
1. Start by browsing together
There are plenty of online rules of the road that adults take for granted, but that young children have no way of knowing. Like so many things, being online safely requires a certain degree of guidance and maturity so spend plenty of time online together, talking about what's out there, including phishing, malware, and pornography. If your kids aren't mature enough to understand these subjects, they're probably not mature enough to be unsupervised online.
2. Discuss the consequences of unsafe behavior thoroughly
You've been online long enough to know a spammy popup when you see one; but kids don't have any instinctive reason to doubt claims they read online. To keep your finances and identity safe, coach your kids extensively about the damage caused by malware, identity theft, and bad influences online. Set firm rules about how your kids should respond to interactions with strangers online, the types of links they can safely click, and which sites are okay to visit. Trust your kids, but install content filters and protect your browser history so that you can detect and handle mistakes when they happen.
3. Set limits
|Image: Uros Velickovic on Flickr|
4. Let your kids see you have fun online, safely
Kids who get bored can range into dangerous territory online, so help them find good places to have fun online. If you stream movies or play games online, it's a good opportunity to talk about which sites are safe, and the dangers that can come from clicking banner ads or unknown items on a Google search.
Talk to your kids about how they want to spend time online so you can decide, first, if you're okay with that activity; and second, what is the safest way to do it. Make sure kids understand the dangers of sharing personal information with strangers online, as well as how to handle the anonymity of the internet with civility and maturity.
5. Model healthy use of social networks
When you and your kids are ready for social networks, talk frankly about treating friends and classmates with respect and add them to your networks so that they can see your civil, decent interactions, and so that you can handle unkind or inappropriate behavior just as you would in person.
About the author
Patricia Shuler is a BBGeeks.com staff writer from Oakland, California. Sheís an admitted tech-junkie whoís quick to share her honest opinion on all things consumer electronicóincluding up-to-date news, user reviews, and ìno holds barredî opinions on a variety of social media, tech, computer, and mobile accessories topics.