It is a fact that most kids are constantly challenging our knowledge and belief about technology and how it fits into their lives. There are both joys and dangers surrounding the internet. As they navigate their way around the www, finding new game sites, downloading music, communicating with friends through their social network and testing, it really comes down to knowledge and staying in touch with what our children are doing. In the next few months, we will include in this newsletter a series of online safety tips for your family from highly trusted resources.
THROUGH THE AGES
Pre‐school Aged Children (ages 3‐4) Ever since the arrival of touch‐screen smartphones and tablets, children still in their baby chairs can access technology with ease. That doesn’t mean the fun and educational apps come without risk. Pay anemone to the programs your tot is using. Is there advertising? Can they click a button and purchase add‐nos that cost real world money? If they push the wrong icon will they see inappropriate images or play music with profane lyrics? Use parental control settings and pay close attention to the devices you share with your youngest children.
Elementary School Children (ages 5‐7) This is the age when many of today’s children are introduced to the Internet. Children aged 5‐9 average 29 minutes spent online every day. Websites (often with online games)—such as NickJr and Webkinz— attract the youngest online children. Some sites are almost entry‐level social networking sites because they have chat and other communicaƟon features. Parents of young children should turn these features off initially. It’s helpful to note that leading sites like Webkinz have become popular because of their extra efforts to provide a safe environment. Regardless of the safety features of these websites, ideally, when your children are this age, you will be actively involved with their online activities the same way you are with their homework. For example, you should make sure the computer or device your child uses is within your view, in a public space like the kitchen, den, or family room. Remember, with our growing use of mobile devices to access the Internet, trying to monitor a stationary computer just isn’t going to be enough. Parental control software can help you by limiting the sites your child can access when you aren’t around, or on devices that disappear into backpacks and bedrooms. The controls also can limit any information you don’t want your child sharing, whether it be their name, age, phone number, or other private information. You should turn on all the filtering and security features in your computer’s search engine (such as the Google Safe Search™ feature) to prevent your young child from inadvertently arriving at an adult or other inappropriate site as they do their homework. Be sure to show your child how to close a browser window and let them know it’s always OK to close a site if something surprising or disturbing occurs. Tell them never to chat, type messages, or share information with anyone on these sites unless you are with them.
- Use parental controls to limit websites and hours spent online.
- Set high security and privacy settings with browsers,and social networking sites.
- Install and maintain internet security software on all devices.
- Monitor your child’s use and sit with them when they’re online as much as possible
- Talk about protecting private information (name, phone number, etc.) and never sharing passwords with friends.