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:  is 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.

Communicating

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 based on a series of networks so you have to belong to a network in order to view profiles of other members.  All members can have a limited profile that the average viewer sees while network members see a fuller profile.  Facebook also allows you to block certain people from accessing your profile at all. With "checking in" and providing your location to other becoming more popular, it is important to be careful to check if it is tracking
and providing information to where you are at any given time.

Twitter Privacy Settings - Twitter is a way to quickly send out a brief message called a "tweet". With the ability to follow your friends, retweet, and comment on their posts, you can gain access to millions of different people. When creating an account, you will provide your name, username, password, email address, or phone number. By going into the settings tab, you can set your feed to private for anyone who isn't following you. This will result in you having to approve any request that someone sends to follow you. Twitter may provide location when you tweet, however you can also review your settings to prevent this feature.

Pinterest Privacy Settings -  Pinterest is a place to discover new ideas for projects, gifts, interests and other activities that people, like you, have picked. When signing up, you can choose what information you provide. If you decide you would like to purchase something straight from Pinterest, you simply provide payment information. With given permission, Facebook or Twitter can be linked to Pinterest to share what you have "pinned" on your different boards. Access your information and profile page at any time, create or add a secret board, and customize what the browser will and won't track.

Snapchat Privacy Settings -   Snapchat is a fast and easy way to share your daily life experiences with your friends around the world. To create an account with Snapchat, you must first provide your username, a password, an email address, phone number and age/date of birth. In order to use Snapcash, you will add a debit or credit card to your account through your personal settings. With the permission of the user, Snapchat will access the contact list to see who is currently using snapchat. This feature can be changed in settings - making it so the user has to manually enter each username of anyone they want to snap.

Instagram Privacy Settings -   Instagram provides a fast and fun way for you to share media. Snap a photo, choose a filter, add a caption, and share. A username, password, and e-mail address will be request upon creating an account. To find your friends, the "find friend" feature will review your contacts list, social media sites, or through other usernames already on instagram that you may know. There is a way to turn off this feature in the settings if you prefer to manually enter your friends.

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: