Keeping Your Children Safe Online: Raising the Digital Generation

Family Matters on 06.25.11
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You can't - and shouldn't - keep your children off computers. We have to face that we live in a digital world and our children will develop a facility with navigating the Internet that far surpasses ours.

I've thought about child-friendly browsers such as Kido'z, but I find them too limiting, at least at this point (my boys are 7 and 5 years old). I used to have an account set up on my Mac for my older son that allowed him to go to only a handful of sites on the browser.

But soon enough, those sites weren't enough. To add more sites was extremely clunky and quickly became not worth it.

So we only allow the boys to be on our laptops when we're in the room or in the next room.  We set them up with the sites they commonly browse in tabs so the likelihood of them going anywhere by accident is lessened. The volume's on, so we can hear what's going on if we're not in the same room.

Fortunately, the one thing our boys seem to obey us on is computer safety. If they click on an advertisement or something else by accident, they call us over. They never go to YouTube without asking (and they only get to watch YouTube if I'm right there - talk about potential landmines).

They don't download anything and understand that being on the computer is a right, not a privilege.

I know that soon enough it won't be so simple, as they'll need to use the computer more for schoolwork and I can't protect them forever from the insanity of the world.

But there are precious few photos of them online and they've grown up understanding that you don't want to tell people online too much about yourself. Sure, their mom basically lives online, but dad doesn't even want a Facebook account, so they see both extremes.

The dangers of children online aren't only about danger to them, of course. If they share too much information or download the wrong thing, we could end up with a burgled house or a computer virus.

When I saw the following infographic, I was glad to see I'd done most of the things on it to protect my children, family and digital files. It's a good reminder:

Top 10 Online Safety Tips

infographic via ZoneAlarm

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