The Internet is a wonderful source of information, recreation, and connection. The possibilities are simply endless when you get online. However, not all information and resources out there are reliable or accurate. Equally important, not all the information is safe or suitable for children. Consider the tips below to help provide guidelines or rules for your children as they engage with online materials.
- Personal Information: Children should understand that they should never give out any kind of personal information (i.e. telephone numbers, addresses, or their location on social networking sites) without their parent’s (or guardian’s) permission.
- Photos and Videos: Children should not post photos or videos of themselves without first discussing it with their parents. They should also not post photos or videos of other minors without their acknowledgement and their parent’s consent.
- Passwords: Everyone needs to be careful about the passwords they choose and how they might be shared. Children should know they should only share their passwords with their parents.
- Real Meets: It should be abundantly clear to your children that they should never arrange to meet up with someone they’ve met online, but should always inform their parents if someone is requesting to meet.
- Don’t Be a Bully: Cyber bullying has become an epidemic problem in our society. Teach your children to have manners online, to refrain from hateful or rude language, and to refrain from saying something they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. You should also encourage your child to come to you if s/he feels like they are a victim of cyber bullying.
- Purchases: Any type of online purchase should, of course, be approved by one’s parents or guardians.
- Downloads: In order to protect your computing devices, children should not download or install software without supervision.
- Usernames: Make sure your children do not choose usernames or screen names that reveal personal information such as your last name or date of birth.
- Open Communication: Perhaps most importantly, make sure you have regular conversations about their online usage and that you build an environment of mutual trust and respect. Encourage them to feel comfortable coming to you with their questions, complaints, or concerns.