As summer approaches and kids have more free time, there are many other steps you can take to keep your children away from potentially harmful websites. Taking extra precautions will provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing the internet is being used well at home, and in school.
Set Clear Boundaries
The good news is you do have control over what your child views as long as you’re aware of the devices they’re using. To create a safe internet environment at home, start with the basics. If you haven’t done so already, check every device to be sure that privacy settings and parental controls are in use.
Any geotagging features on apps and websites should be turned off, as well. The less personal information that leaves your home via the internet, the better. Next, you want to control who can connect with your kids online. Take note of any apps or sites that feature direct messaging, video chats, or file uploads. If anonymous users can communicate with them, then your kids probably shouldn’t be on that website.
It’s a good idea to check their posts, profiles, and other online activities from time to time, especially as they get older. That will give you a better sense of what their online activities consist of and whether you need to tighten your boundaries.
Communicate Risks and Boundaries to Children
Discussing internet safety openly with children can help them know what to avoid, as well. Teach them to spot red flags, and encourage them to tell you if they see anything inappropriate online. Try to keep electronic devices in common areas of the home so they’re not being used in private. If they have trouble getting offline, set time limits so they know what is expected of them.
Older children might be getting interested in social media, and your boundaries can extend to what they do when you’re not around. Discourage them from sharing their passwords with others, and be sure they’re aware of the risk of personal information or images being shared publicly.
Finally, pay attention to any changes in their behavior. If your child is attempting to conceal his or her online activity, take appropriate action.
Additional Internet Safety Measures for Kids
With so many activities taking place online, it can be a struggle for parents to know if something is appropriate for kids. Even if your child says it’s school-related, let them know you need to review games, apps, and anything they plan to download.
Here at Saint Anne Parish School, we make sure to vet products and set up classes so that students can access the internet as safely as possible. We recommend that parents familiarize themselves with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), a federal law that prohibits websites from collecting personal information from kids under 13 without parental consent.
It’s common for parents to access educational tools online to be used outside of class. Here are four COPPA reminders that apply to parents, guardians, and anyone who works with children:
- Avoid apps, games, or websites with too much advertising
- Avoid any unnecessary collection of information.
- Only use tools designed with education in mind.
- Make sure minors aren’t sharing personal information online.
If you’re concerned about your child’s privacy, remind them about the importance of password safety. On your end, there are safety measures you can take, as well. Keep virtual IDs, links, and passwords private to block unwanted visitors from any video meetings with children. And in general, think twice about sharing the names of children publicly, either on social media or elsewhere online.
Once you’ve got your bases covered, it never hurts to do a refresher. Periodically check in with your kids so you understand what they’re viewing online and why they’re using the internet at all. If you’re not comfortable with something, maybe it’s time for them to take a break from the virtual world and re-enter the real one.
We love technology, and so do many of our students! We integrate technology into project-based interdisciplinary studies throughout the school. To find out how we ensure the safety of our children at Saint Anne Parish School, or for any other questions, call us at (847) 381-0311, or reach out through our website.