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 texting, 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 newsle er a series of online safety ps for your family from highly trusted resources.

THROUGH THE AGES

Tween Children (ages 8-12)
Tweens are far more social and adventuresome in their computer use. They talk to their peers at school and learn about the newest and “coolest” sites. They will sign-up for their first email and instant messaging accounts. Ask your child about those accounts and what the passwords are, so that you can monitor their activities, and know with whom they are communicating. Children at this age may also start to check out social networking sites that are popular with older teens and adults. A study from Consumer Reports estimates there are 5.6 million underage kids on Facebook. Most won’t create an account until they are a little older (and the usual legal age to begin is 13 years), but they will visit the pages and posts of friends, older siblings, and other relatives who have their own pages and profiles. If your young child creates a social network before they are the approved age and it is discovered by the company, their account will be deleted. Some tweens are using photo sharing and blogging sites as a junior version of social networking. You may not realize they can post messages, comment and share among a network of friends using these apps. Pay attention to ALL the sites your children visit, especially those that occupy most of their time. Don’t assume time spent on a photo sharing site is due to a new interest in digital photography alone!

HOT TIP: Use a monitor software such as Norton™ Family to monitor the creation and use of social networking accounts. You can even see what age your child claims to be.

Tweens are also interested in music, and the Internet is an easy way to listen, discover and download new tunes, as well as meet others who share their musical interests. They might follow news about a favorite group or celebrity by visiting their blog or website; check out different sites to get the latest gossip along with downloadable photos; or join a Twitter feed.

Online video sites are enormously popular. Some of the videos contain strong language or violent material, so you need to monitor your tween’s visits carefully. And remind your tween not to click links in video comments which may take them to dangerous or inappropriate sites. The more creative tweens are learning how to take their own digital photos, edit videos, and share their creations with friends and family. With your help or the help of a more experienced friend, they are starting to post their creations online as well.

HOT TIP: Check your browser’s history to see where your children are visiting and how often they go to those sites. Call us if you need help installing software to monitor Web activity and preventing kids from trying to delete visits from their history.