What you can do to keep your child safe:
Schools use protective filters to block Internet access completely or block certain sites like pornography, social media, and gaming. Filters can also be installed at home to filter and block inappropriate content on your home computer. This allows a parent to completely control when access is open/closed to such sites.
These same tools allow parents to control any wireless device, whether it is a laptop, a smartphone with a web browser, an iPod touch, and more. Without any filtering software at home, a user can get to any site on any device, including a desktop computer.
Some possible filters to consider include OpenDNS, SafeEyes, and NetNanny, or if you have a newer computer with Microsoft Windows or Mac Snow Leopard, the software is built right into the operating system- it’s called Parental Controls and there is no need to buy anything else.
TV cable companies offer filtering services as well. Again, simply Google your provider along with the words "parental controls" to learn how to access these features.
Other filters to consider:
Products are now available that monitor your child's posts and digital footprint/reputation on sites like Facebook and Twitter, such as SafetyWeb and Social Shield.
Turn on the free tools within Google and YouTube to activate stricter filters on web, image, and video searches.
Cell phone providers offer filtering services parents can choose to activate. To learn more, simply Google your service provider with the words "parental controls." You can filter text messages as well as websites your child can access through her/his phone.
There are also services you can purchase that will help you filter your child’s phone such as SafeEyes and NetNanny. Some phone companies like Kajeet specifically offer filtered phones for children with a variety of additional control options.
Other Important Parenting Tips:
- Maintain open communication with your child about technology use, regularly asking your child about his or her computer activities.
- Ask to get a tour of the sites your child visits.
- Proactively set guidelines for computer use at your house, as well as when they are with friends. Print off, discuss, and sign a Common Sense Family Media Agreement:
- Know your child’s passwords. This enables you to gain access to their e-mail, social networking sites, etc. in case of an emergency.
- Google family members to be aware of your cyber footprint online. Set up a Google Alert for each family member for free.
- Anything we do or post online creates a digital record, often called your "Cyber Footprint." Nothing online is totally private, even if you intend it to be. Once digitized, it can be saved, sent and reposted elsewhere.
- A good rule of thumb: If you don’t want a parent, teacher, principal, future employer or college admissions office to know something, don’t post it online.
- "Friends" are not always who they say they are; undercover police and pedophiles pretend to be kids online. The following site has an abundance of resources to help support you as you work with children to be safe online. http://www.ikeepsafe.org/parents/
- Never post personal information online. This includes: full name, address, phone number, email, where you are meeting friends or where you hang out.
- While the Internet is an incredible resource with countless educational opportunities, there are also frightening dangers that kids can get involved in or be exposed to online. Pornography is often just a click away, and kids are curious. Social Networking sites like Facebook for teens (Webkinz and Club Penguin for younger students) are a popular way to connect with friends and meet new people, but these sites are mostly unsupervised and may push limits and test boundaries. Watch Social Networking in Plain English to understand how Social Networks operate. Videos on YouTube and similar sites with live web cams allow kids to be creative and share all sorts of content, some of which may be inappropriate or unwise to publish.
- Cyberbullying (threatening or harassing another individual through technology), is a growing concern for today’s youth. It takes many forms, such as forwarding a private email, photo, or text message for others to see, starting a rumor, or sending a threatening or aggressive message, often anonymously. Talk with your child about not partaking in this behavior, and encourage her/him to report it to an adult. Some videos online to help kids understand this include Ad Council Commercials Talent Show (Elementary and Middle School Students) or Kitchen (High School Students), as well as NetSmartz.org’s videos on Broken Friendship(Secondary Students) or You Can’t Take It Back (Secondary Students). ThatsNotCool.com is a good resource about textual harassment and sexting.