With October being Cyber Security month here in the states, we at DadsTalking wanted to take a second to talk shop about keeping your children safe in the home as they travel through cyberspace. The stats out there can be a little scary but with some common sense and some “best practices,” you can ensure that your children have fun with the best the web has to offer, while avoiding (and being prepared) for the worst it has to offer.
- Make an effort to understand the basics of the technology that your child is (or will be) using on a daily basis.
- Talk, talk, talk. Communicate with them early and often. Set appropriate expectations for online behavior. Let them know in an age appropriate fashion, what kind of content is and is not acceptable for their surfing or socializing. Give them the stranger talk. Reality is online and online is generally an extension of reality. For instance, cyberbullying usually begins with a spat between two people offline.
- Use Internet filtering or monitoring software. You don’t have to check in on what your child is doing every day but the fact that you can, and they know you can, helps set the right tone for responsible behavior.
- No computers in the bedrooms. Always use computers in the living room or other public space that has a decent amount of “traffic.”
- No personal information online. If they wish to post photos to a Facebook profile, no identifying info in the photos. This means no pics in front of the school marquee, etc.
- Tell your children not to click on pop-up windows. Show them how to close a window by clicking the “X” or using the keyboard shortcut [Command+w] or [ctrl+w], depending on the operating system.
- No peer-to-peer networks. No Limewire, no Torrents.
- Be wary of your child visiting websites like: Chatroulette.com, Ustream.com, Stickam.com, and Formspring.me
- Be aware that some TV shows or movies you deem inappropriate for your child may be easily accessible via websites like Hulu.com, Joost.com, YouTube and via file sharing networks and services like Bit Torrent. Many services like Netflix and Hulu.com are now making content available through your child’s gaming console.
- DLC, or DownLoadable Content will be more common with video games as game makers are driven to offer greater incentive to purchase in this tough economy. Some of this content is highly inappropriate for even teenagers, so caveat emptor (buyer beware)! Check the game’s box prior to purchase to see if the title has available DLC.
- Talk to your children about risky behaviors like Sexting and inappropriate activities on webcams. Let them know that there are people who will record them and use their indiscretions against them. Many risky behaviors like hacking into a friend’s Facebook account or sending out “sexts” or sharing “sexts” with others by forwarding them, carry some pretty serious legal consequences and may be considered a felony or even distribution of child pornography.
One of the great deterrents as we mentioned is parental control software. In the work I do for my non-profit organization, we look at and review parental control software and one of them that our organization, Digital Shepherds, recommends is SafeEyes6. There are others we are working on reviewing as well since we want to give parents a choice and help them decide which works best for them by making them aware of all of their options. You can check out my review of SafeEyes6 here.
If you’re visiting this post just after our Twitter party on internet safety and are one of the winners of the SafeEyes6 prize package, be sure to post up in the comments if you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding the software subscription you’ve just won. We would like to thank InternetSafety.com for sponsoring the Twitter party and supporting parents as we raise healthy, well adjusted children who are smart and savvy consumers of digital technologies!