As your children get older, they’re inevitably going to spend time on the Internet. There’s really no way around it. We count on our schools to provide a safe online experience for students, but at home it’s the responsibility of parents. How can we teach and model good Internet usage and also allow kids and teenagers the opportunity to learn and explore safely? Here are some tips to get the conversation started in your home and establish some good ground rules.
All things in moderation. As with any type of technology in the home, limits are very important. Between TV, video games and social media, a lot of time can be used up if you aren’t careful!
Be aware. Know where your children visit online. Know who they are conversing or interacting with. Know when they are using the Internet. If your children know that you’re paying attention, yet trusting them to follow the rules, they will behave more responsibly online. You can use parental controls on your devices to safeguard children from inappropriate content, and there is also software available to further monitor online visits.
Do your homework too. Homework isn’t just for kids. Parents are responsible for researching websites, games, videos and apps and finding out how they are rated by sites such as Kids in Mind or Common Sense Media.
Model good Internet habits. It may not seem like it, but your kids pay attention to what you’re doing! Be a good role model of online usage for your kids. Let them see you set and abide by your own limits.
Finding a good balance of communicating with friends virtually and communicating with your family in person can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. Your children will benefit from the fair Internet parameters you establish and enforce.