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It’s inevitable: Your kids will spend more time on the Internet. With the rise in social networking and Web-based school programming, as well as access to more affordable computers, children are putting in more screen time than ever before.
While the Internet offers access to a world of information, it is also full of predators, pornography and scams galore. Here’s how you give your children the best of the Web while protecting them against the dangerous stuff.
Open communication. Talk openly to children about using the Internet safely. That means setting clear rules and discussing healthy ways to deal with inappropriate content that inevitably pops up.
Content blockers & filters. Great for younger children, blockers prevent explicit sites from loading or limit searches to a predetermined set of age-appropriate sites. Filters scan sites and images to block those containing certain dangerous content. All major operating systems include these options, and parental controls are also available on mobile devices.
Tracking software. This may be a better option for teenagers. Specially designed tracking programs can give older kids the freedom to explore while still monitoring which sites they are visiting and ensuring responsible Internet use.
Physical monitoring. Nothing will replace the act of simply being present in your child’s Internet life. Consider setting up a shared computer space for younger children, limiting screen time, checking in regularly with teens and generally supervising safe Web use-without playing Internet cop.
Social appropriateness. Social networking and chatting online makes up a huge chunk of our time online. While most behavior may be innocent communication with friends, children are easy targets for increasingly sophisticated online predators. Teach children about online stranger dangers, cyber bullying and appropriate limits for social “networking.”
With a little research, a few tools and plenty of open communication, your family can create a happy, healthy online experience. We’re here to protect your family and the community as a whole. Call us if we can be of further legal assistance.