The internet is an integral part of learning online, helping students from preschool through grad school interact with the wider world. It has also brought a change to the way we must parent our young children who are being exposed to the vastness of the online world. Allowing children to experience the best that technology has to offer and keeping them safe online can seem paralyzing at times, requiring parents to be digitally literate and aware. Internet safety education helps provide the benefits of rich experiences while minimizing the risks to your family. Here are five steps to ensure you’re keeping your students safe online while learning.
1) Use Technology Together
It is so easy to let children be entertained by technology, especially with the large quantity of educational apps and websites. For your child to benefit the most, studies have shown the experience is much more meaningful when parents share technology alongside their children. Spending time together, asking questions about a game, or developing a new skill makes the experience richer. You are your child’s first teacher and they will learn proper technology through your guidance.
2) Keep All Devices in a Common Area
To monitor online activity, all technology should be in a common area for quick supervision. Avoid placing computers or digital devices in a bedroom.
3) Set Limits
Children need to have structure in their activities. You would not allow them to eat just one food, so you should not allow them to do one activity. One way to monitor computer use is by implementing a token system. Each token equals a specific amount of time on electronics. Once the tokens are gone, the device time is over. For very young children, you can use a timer.
4) Have an Internet Safety Pledge
It’s important to discuss online safety with your children and ensure everyone knows and follows the rules. You could even have a page printed and placed where everyone can see it as a reminder, including babysitters and grandparents, to ensure consistency. Here are rules to get you started:
- Never give out personal information, including name, address, phone number, school name, or financial information.
- Never agree to meet someone in person if I’ve only met them online.
- Do not send messages or chats unless given permission by an adult.
- Never open emails from unknown senders, and never click on links I don’t recognize.
- Always tell an adult if I see anything online that makes me uncomfortable.
5) Security Tools and Parental Controls
There are wonderful security tools that can assist you in monitoring online behavior. They are not meant to replace parenting, but to offer additional supervision. At the very least, use the parental controls and passwords built into devices and websites. For more control, look into software that has the features you need.