Start Early – it is never too soon to discuss Internet safety. Communication is key!
Establish family rules that can grow with your children and remind them the rules apply wherever they use the Internet – home, school, a friend’s house, the library…
Encourage your children to tell you what they do, where they go and who they talk to in the virtual world, just like you would in the “real world”.
Set parameters for length of time, types of sites and amount of interaction your children are allowed to take part in online. These parameters can and should change as a child ages and proves that he or she can handle the responsibility.
Learn how to use parental controls and let your children know that you expect them to abide by the rules. You can always ease up as they prove that they are responsible.
Encourage your children to learn how to set their own privacy settings and what information is okay to share and more importantly what is not.
Don’t be shocked or blame your children when they stumble upon inappropriate material online. Encourage them to tell you immediately so you can discuss it.
Look for teachable moments or websites to discuss with your children so they know what to do when confronted by things that make them feel uncomfortable or how to avoid pitfalls.
Just like in the real world, your child is going to be curious about subjects that are beyond his or her experience. Encourage them to be open with you about this curiosity and help them to understand that they can get in trouble online as well as off.
Try not to say “I told you so” when your child tells you they’ve been hurt or frightened online – this may only discourage discussion and they may hide things from you for fear of retribution.
Let your children teach you about the Internet – you’ll be amazed how many things they disclose inadvertently.
Don’t be afraid of the Internet and try to stay current.
Know that a child will sometimes talk to another trusted adult – a teacher, an older sibling or a favorite aunt – before you. The important thing is that they’re communicating.
Remind your children that using the Internet is like other privileges they enjoy; riding a bike, going to the mall, driving a car, etc. All privileges have rules, safety measures and consequences when the rules are not followed; the Internet is no different.
Keep communicating – it is the best defense against abuse.