Staying Safe Online – for Parents

The Internet can be a scary place, especially when you’re a parent thinking of your kids being online. Between social media, games and, yes, even researching school work, most kids these days spend a great deal of time online. So how can you help keep them safe?

The biggest safety tip for parents is to be aware of what your kids are doing online. Do you know the sites the visit? Or the people they talk to? Do you know the things they post? Just like with real life, it is important to know where your kids are hanging out and who they’re spending time with online. According to the McAfee Digital Deceptions study in 2013

Seventy-four percent of parents admit to not knowing about their children’s online behavior, but 46% of youth say that they would change their online behavior if their parents were paying attention.

Read the full report here, on the McAfee website
So how can you keep up with what your kids are up to? Here are some tips: 

Create an open and honest environment for discussing online behaviors and security risks with kids.
Start conversations regularly about practicing online safety and focus on offering guidance instead of trying to control children’s online behavior.
Emphasize the concept of credibility and encourage children to proceed with caution: not everything they see on the Internet is true and people on the Internet may not be who they appear to be. Talk with children, and especially teens, about the importance of creating and maintaining a positive online identity.
Watch for changes in behavior—if you child suddenly avoids the computer—it may be a sign they are being bullied online.
Review security settings and privacy policies for the websites your child uses.
Some sources also suggest putting the computer in a central location, keeping things in plain sight. 
Remember, it’s not just computers that offer access to the Internet; kids can also access from their smart phone or tablet. Be aware of the apps that are on your kids’ devices and what they’re used for. Common Sense Media has a list of apps that parents should be aware of that can be found here. It’s important to know what these apps are capable of and why your kids might want to use them. 
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