Internet Overview

Fortunately, kids are no different today than when you were growing up.  They still go through a phase of finding their identity and they still look for ways to express themselves.  Your kids are going through the same things; the only difference is the location.  However, many parenting techniques translate over to the Web.

While kids may be more knowledgeable about the Internet than their parents, you are not facing a losing battle.  There are a few things that you as parents can do to protect your kids.  The bottom line:  to instill your values in your kids every chance you get.

Talking with your kids while they are young will help prevent them from trusting everything they read online or finding inappropriate content on their own.


Instant message, e-mail, blogs, apps, chat rooms; there are so many forms of communication on the Internet.  It can be hard to keep track of who your kids are talking to on the Web.  While you cannot watch their every key stroke, there are a few guidelines you can give your kids so that their communications via the Internet are safe and friendly.

  1. Do not reveal your personal information to anyone.
  2. Do not coordinate a meeting with someone online.
  3. Be careful what photos and videos you send.
  4. Treat people the same online as you would in person.
  5. Do not share your password with anyone but your parents.
  6. Always sign out of an account when finished
  7. Stay away from downloading or visiting any pop-ups.
  8. Tell an adult if they feel uncomfortable about something
    that was said or done.
  9. Stay on a familiar site if playing any type of online games.

Video Networking

Video networks, like YouTube, are Web sites that allow users to upload and share video content with any Internet user.  The best thing you can do for your child who wants to use a video network is to have them register with you nearby to make sure only necessary information is provided. Be sure to review the settings before uploading any videos live to the site.


Web Surfing

The Web provides kids a plethora of information at their fingertips, but it also exposes them to a lot of things you might not want them to see.  Here is a list of things you can do:

  • Keep your computer in a centrally located place (not your kid’s bedrooms).
  • Check the Web site history on your Internet browser to see what sites your kids have been visiting.
  • If your kids are Web-savvy enough to clear the history, you could purchase software that monitors computer use including Web site history.
  • Teach your kids to ignore pop-ups and contests.
  • Educate your kids and yourself on the validity of the information on the Web.
  • Invest in filtering software which blocks Web sites that contain keywords from a list that you choose.

Many search engines now have filtering options that work the same way as filtering software.  There are also search engines designed for younger kids like Yahooligans! and Ask Jeeves for Kids.  These are great resources for kids to use when doing homework.

Media Downloading

This is a tricky subject to monitor as a parent.  The entire media world is changing right in front of our eyes.  There are several music artists who prefer to offer their music at a “name your price” rate rather than through traditional means.  There are also many file sharing programs where people can share different forms of media both legally and illegally.  Fortunately, most acceptable sites require a credit card to purchase music and videos.  As a parent this gives you more control over what you let your kids download.

Talk to your kids about the subject; find out what they think about the entertainment industry.  Do they think file sharing is wrong?

Social Media and Apps

Social Media and Apps have become the mainstream way to use technology amongst teenagers and young adults. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest are the most used social platforms.

Privacy has become a huge issue in social media, but kids are using more discretion than you would think.  There are new privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat,Instagram and Pinterest; not to mention many more privacy settings for your personal page.  Like anything else, is important to talk to your kids.  It may be difficult to stop them from using social media and apps all together, but you can use this as an opportunity to discuss your values.

Facebook Privacy Settings - Facebook is a social media platform for connecting with other people, businesses, and organizations. Over the past couple of years their privacy settings have evolved and are likely to continue to evolve. The main tab’s functions include a news feed (aka: friend feed), messenger (a messaging app), and the user’s own timeline.

A user may decide whether they want their post to be public or available to friends only. There is also a degree of customization in terms of which friends can access a post in the form of the options “Friends Except” and “Specific Friends”. In the privacy tab you can set all future posts to a default setting thus mentioned. A user may also choose to make a post only visible to themselves.

More settings in the privacy tab include:

Regarding security, a user can add an extra layer of security through enabling a two-factor authentication option that will send a code to a cell phone the user will use to log in alongside the password. One can also enable an option that would alert the user when an unrecognized device logs in. Facebook allows a user to block aspects of communication, other users, app invites, apps, and pages.

Facebook apps include games and other functions relating to fitness and lifestyle. The user can put passwords on apps. Apps may post on behalf of a user unless this function is turned off.

Twitter Privacy Settings - Twitter is a social media website for sharing opinions and news. It includes a home page that will provide the user updates from other users, organizations, and businesses that they choose to follow. The “Moments” tab provides a user news in the form of tweets that are made that day.

One of twitters security features is login verification. Login verification is a function in which twitter will send a code to the user’s phone when anyone attempts to login to their account essentially providing an extra layer of security. Twitter also provides password verification that requires the user to supply personal information to reset their password, ensuring that only the user can reset the password.

A user can alter tagging to allow only fiends to tag them, or disallow anyone from doing so. Twitter provides discoverability options including disallowing anyone from finding a user via email or phone number. A user can alter their ability to be affiliated with companies and organizations via the “Twitter for Teams” options.

Twitter will hide sensitive content and remove content from blocked accounts as a default. A user can also mute accounts and specific words. Video autoplay can be disabled from the “Accessibility” tab. Twitter will email you practically every single interaction that is in relation to your account—a feature that can be turned off in the “Email Notifications” tab in settings. Twitter also allows a user to mute notifications through a variety of different filters.

Pinterest Privacy Settings -  Pinterest is an image sharing website. Users can find and share pictures of things they are interested in. The main tabs include a home feed, which will show you content based upon what you are interested in, and an explore feed—shows new content that is popular in more general categories.

Pinterest’s security page allows a user to clear their Pinterest search history. A user can also check the on previous and ongoing login sessions to make sure their account is secure.

Snapchat Privacy Settings -  Snapchat is social messaging app that allows users to send each other picture, video, and text-based messages. It also features a story option in which users can post pictures and videos that stay for a span of 24 hours.

Stories can be altered to be seen by either everyone, friends only, or custom—this allows certain friends to be exempted from viewing a user’s story.

In settings, a user can alter who can contact them. Instagram also implemented a feature called “SnapMap” a function that allows users to view each other’s locations. SnapMap can be disabled in settings. Users can clear search history and cache from the settings.

Instagram Privacy Settings is an image sharing social media app. Users can post pictures to their account page and follow other accounts whose pictures will then appear in their home feed. The explore tab will show popular content that reflects what the user follows and searches for.
Instagram allows a user to choose whether their account is private (visible to friends) or public (visible to everyone). Under another user’s account settings, options exist such as Report and Block. Instagram also allows a user to report specific posts under the post’s settings.
Instagram has also incorporated a story feature which a user can post pictures and videos to that are temporary, usually detailing their daily lives or activities. Under another user’s settings, a user can choose to hide their story from said user. If a user does not want their story to be resharable, they can disable story sharing from the “Privacy and Security” tab in settings. Search history can be cleared from the “Account” page under settings.

Since there are so many of us using social media and apps, many parents are finding themselves worrying about what their children are viewing. As a parent, it is important to talk to your kids about who they are friends with online or on any app. Here are some guidelines you can use: