The warm days are summer are giving way to cooler temperatures and changing leaves. The arrival of fall means school is back in session and parents are once again packing lunches, enforcing bedtimes, and checking math homework. In today’s digital age, parents have one more thing to add to their back-to-school checklist. With everything from school assignments and communication with friends happening online, cyber safety is a concern for every parent. Consider these Internet Safety Tips to keep your students safe online.

Internet Safety Tips: Monitor Usage

According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 95% of teenagers aged 12 to 17 are online. With so many children and teens logging on, monitoring their usage of the Internet and social media is one of the keys to keeping them safe.

One simple way to monitor Internet usage is to keep the computer in a high-traffic area of the home. Placing the computer in the family room or kitchen allows you to easily see which websites your children are visiting, who they are talking to, and how much time they are spending online.

It is also important to know all of the usernames and passwords that your children use on the Internet and on their phones. Log into their accounts frequently to ensure that you have the correct login information and to be sure they are using email and social media in ways you are comfortable with.

Another way to monitor your child’s Internet usage is to review the Internet history within your browser. However, many young people are well aware of how to delete their browsing history. Consider installing a monitoring program that will help you track time spent online, websites visited, and keystrokes.

Internet Safety Tips: Establish limits

Each child is different and the rules of the road for using the Internet should be as unique as they are. Take your child’s age, maturity level, and interests into consideration and set limits for…

  • How long they may spend online
  • What time of day they may go online
  • What websites they may visit
  • What (if any) social media sites they may use
  • Who (if anyone) they may talk to online
  • What (if any) information they may post online

Setting and enforcing limits can be difficult, but you don’t have to go it alone. Most Internet Service Providers offer parental controls that allow parents to block specific websites and set hours for Internet usage. In addition, most search engines provide “safe search” options that prevent questionable websites and images from being returned in search results.

Internet Safety Tips: Communicate

Communication and trust are often the keys to success when it comes to Internet safety. It is important that children understand that the Internet can be a powerful resource but that there are also risks they should be aware of. In addition, they should also understand that by monitoring their computer usage you are not spying on them, but rather trying to help them stay safe. In talking to your children about Internet safety, consider these talking points…

  • The Internet is a powerful tool, but it also presents risks
  • Once you post things on the internet, they cannot be taken back
  • Posting mean or threatening messages is cyberbullying. If this happens, talk to a parent or teach immediately
  • Never post personal information such as addresses, telephone numbers, and social security numbers
  • Never talk to strangers online
  • Never arrange to meet someone you met online
  • Do not download attachments from people you do not know
  • Do not download programs of software without permission
  • Do not give out passwords to anyone except your parents

Internet Safety Tips: Set an example

Talking to your kids about cyber safety is important, but the example you set speaks even louder. Spend time using the Internet with your children. Allow them to see what sites you enjoy visiting, how you conduct research, and what you post on social media.

Internet Safety Tips: Be prepared

Even the most technology-savvy user can bump into a questionable website every now and then. To limit the risks, install a virus protection program and update it as needed.

Internet Safety Tips: Beyond Computers

Internet usage is no longer limited to the personal computer. Many teens and children now access the web through smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. These devices present new challenges in cyber safety because they literally bring the Internet to the palm of your hands and can be quickly accessed anytime and anywhere.

Be sure to implement the same type of limits for smartphones as you would for home computers. In addition, children should not allow anyone to use their cell phones. Allowing others to use your cell phone enables them to send messages or make purchases under your name.

The Internet presents a wide variety of risks. However, it is also a powerful tool for education. This year, as you settle in for the new school year, take the opportunity to review cyber safety at school with your children.