There is a lot of precedent for keeping kids safe in everyday situations: We have learned that it is important to remind them that they shouldn’t talk to strangers, we know that it is important to hold little children’s hands as they cross the street, and it is common knowledge that hot dogs must be cut up into really small pieces when given to toddlers. What may not come quite as easily to our parental sensibilities is how to keep our children safe on the computer. Internet safety was obviously not an issue back when we played the Atari, so we are all treading on new ground here.
To keep kids and computers safe from Internet dangers, parents must develop a comprehensive plan. These measures are designed to prevent inappropriate communications, potentially dangerous situations, and inadvertent virus sharing. Keep in mind that the issue of trust will always come up with teenagers. If you are open about the security measures you will be enforcing, they will be more likely to appreciate your concern — going behind their backs may end up causing more problems. Here are a few options:
Install an Internet filter. Several products (including some that come with your operating system or Web browser) provide parents with multiple levels of security. Certain Web sites and content can be blocked and parents can view a log of sites that have been visited.
Become your child’s Facebook friend. This may sound difficult, but if done correctly, you would be surprised how much fun it can be for you and your child. One word of caution — don’t make too many comments. It is the surefire way to embarrass your teenager and end up off of their friends list.
Keep your computer in a public location. This may be the best and simplest way to combat inappropriate Internet use. Put your computer in a hallway, a family room, a dedicated computer room, or anywhere that isn’t your child’s bedroom. Inappropriate behavior is less likely to occur in a place where others are present.
Install anti-virus measures. Make sure your computer is current in anti-virus protection. You can never be absolutely sure that your teenager (or you for that matter) won’t inadvertently download a corrupted file.
Computer Problem Specialists understands the need for protection. We are available at (928) 468-0000 to walk you through a comprehensive security plan.
In the end, the best thing you can do for your children is to educate them. Let them know that there are bad things and bad people on the Internet. Teach them how to recognize fishy-looking downloads. Train them to use caution when communicating with strangers and assure them that the security measures you have implemented are not because you don’t trust them.
Just like a fidgety toddler wants to cross the street by himself, you may meet a little resistance. With a little patience, though, you can safely guide your children across the dangerous street we call the Internet.
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.