In most families, the kids know more about computers and the Internet than their parents. Even as an IT professional, it has been a challenge to monitor our children’s Internet usage and prevent them from accessing, either on purpose or accident, inappropriate material for their age. Because of the multitude of applications, the availability of Internet access, and no lack of information on how to “outsmart mom and dad”, we as parents need to be educated on how to protect our children.

This is the first of what will be multiple posts on this topic. To kick things off, here is quick list of five simple things you can do right now to help keep your kids safe on the Internet:

  1. Actively monitor children while they are using the computer. This is also a great way to spend time with your kids. If you can, actively watch them as they use the computer, but at the very least, be in the same room. Seems basic, but you would be surprised at how many people treat the computer as a babysitter.
  2. Install Parental Control Software. This is a good alternative to constant monitoring and very useful as your children get older and are more dependent on the Internet for school assignments.
  3. Monitor their iPad, iPhone, smartphone, etc. usage. Remember that the computer is not the only way your young one has access to the Internet.
  4. Limit the time they can use the Internet. Newer versions of Windows and Apple have the ability to create limits as to when the computer can be used. Since iPads do not have this ability built in, our kids drop theirs off in our room at night and pick them up in the morning.
  5. Talk to your kids about the dangers of the Internet. Having regular conversations with your children helps them understand why you have safeguards and rules in place. Discussing online etiquette and usage is truly one of the best tools at your disposal.