Internet safety

As my oldest reaches the age where she can read and potentially search the web on her own, I’m much more vigilant about privacy and safety online than I ever was before. Combine that with the growing use of social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook to share information, and there are way too many opportunities for all of our privacy to be compromised.

Okay, I’ll say it – it totally freaks me out as a mom.

The challenge is knowing where to start on educating our kids about internet safety. So I was so happy to sit down with Ryan Moreau, an internet safety expert who’s worked for years with all kinds of school districts and police departments to get the real scoop on some truly helpful internet safety basics for parents. He also works with Kiwi Commons, a super smart resource with info on everything from cyberbullying to privacy and video game addiction. –Kristen

[don’t miss Ryan’s super smart tips after the jump]

What are three simple steps that parents can take to make their family computer safer?

1. Keep your computer in a high traffic area in the house so you can keep track of what’s going on.
2. Establish a set of guidelines with your kids, and be a part of what your children are doing online.
3. Ensure that all safety settings and security features are enabled on the programs your kids use.

children and internet safety
What are your thoughts on sharing photos and other personal information on sites like Facebook?

The first step to staying safe is to ensure that you keep privacy
settings on personal accounts and limit access to [only] friends and family.
However, even with privacy settings, you should still be careful –
think of all the material you post as pieces to a puzzle. Think twice
about what you post and consider: Is there anything in this picture,
post, or video that will tell the world too much personal information
about my family?

What’s a good age for parents to start talking to and educating their kids about internet safety?

It’s never too soon to start talking to your kids about internet
safety. Before age 10, parents should guide and be a direct part of
their kids’ online activity. For older kids, parents should ensure that
they engage in a regular dialogue with their kids about their online
habits. An open dialogue is is the key to ensure that kids will speak
to their parents about issues they encounter online.

What are the five most important things parents should make sure their kids know before sending them off to surf the web?

Before I share these points, your kids need to understand that they can
come to you whenever they encounter anything that’s uncomfortable or
harmful. Approximately 70% of kids say they wouldn’t talk to their
parents about a problem online for fear that they’d lose computer
privileges.

1. The Internet remembers everything we post on it, forever.
2. The Internet will share everything we tell it with anyone who asks, even if they are not our friends.
3. Once we post something online, we can never take it back.
4. Not everyone online is a friend, or who they say they are.
5. It’s always okay to talk to an adult about something bad on the Internet.

Thanks Ryan! And for more information and free parent guides on internet safety, visit Kiwi Commons

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