I you are a mother, I am sure that you have read you fair share of horror stories about what is happening online to kids all over the world. If you are a mother of two young girls, then you know that every time they turn on their computers or log in to their Facebook, you think that you should really do something to protect them.
There are all sort of dangerous things lurking from the computer screen. Even if you don’t think that things are that alarming, you still have to know that protecting your kids online also includes controlling what sort of content they will be exposed to while surfing the web. Here are some of the things that I did to try and do the unimaginable – keep my two little princesses safe online.
Good, old fashioned family talk
Before doing anything online, I set some firm and understandable rules with my girls by talking to them. We sat down and discussed what they can freely do, and also what is not OK to do while they are online. We talked about posting photos, talking to people they don’t know, giving out their personal data and many more things.
We set the rules together and we all try to follow them. One of them is not deleting search history. It’s quite handy. The emphasis of our talk was put on not giving out data, ever. Even by accident – for example mentioning on a forum or on Facebook that they will be at a certain place during a given time. I can’t stress this one enough.
Sometimes, I realized that the inappropriate content on my girls’ screen is not there because they wanted it there. At times, pop-ups and other similarly malicious software infests your computer and bad things can happen. Therefore, it is really advisable to install some sort of monitoring program that will automatically block the sites and ads that your kids should not be visiting. I know that, in time, as my girls grow older, I will have to keep up to date as they will quickly learn how to disable it.
Whitelisting and Blacklisting
Keep a list of safe sites the kids can visit to ensure the girls remain as safe as possible. For example, she lets them browse through coupons on specific sites, look at pictures on sites like Flickr or Pinterest, or join safe chat rooms per-approved by friends and moderated by trusted people.
It is also wise to blacklist some sites that you know you don’t want your children to visit.
Today, they can really go online everywhere. WiFi is everywhere you go and you can log in at any time from their PC, their phone or tablet… options are practically limitless.
Therefore, Internet time at your home should be limited. One of the dangers of the Internet is spending too much time online. If you cannot prevent it from happening during the entire day, at least you can prevent it from happening in your home. So be sure to limit the time your girls can spend online. The world is out there, and it is best if they don’t waste their lives learning about the world from the computer screen. Life happens off-line too.
Place of your computer
Especially if your kids are very young, like my girls are, you should place the computer that has the access to the Internet at a public place in your home. In this case, your kids will be less prone to try something online that they are not sure that they should be doing. I try to give as much privacy as I can to my girls, but I have to admit that I like the fact that they know I can see what is on their screen at any time. A fast and quick minimizing of a window when I come near them is a sure sign that something is fishy and I have to react.
Internet is a digital jungle and my girls are two cute and defenseless cubs. My job is to keep them safe at all times but also to teach them how to stay safe online when I’m not around.
Photo Credit: Flickr/NYCDOT