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Top 10 Safe and Secure Online Tips for Parents

  1. Talk to your kids about the risks of being on the Internet. The Internet is a fascinating world for them, but make sure they understand the dangers.
  2. Understand that social networking often begins earlier than age 13: While Facebook has an official minimum age of 13, it is not enforceable, and many sites don’t restrict by age whatsoever. Growing numbers of elementary school children report having social networking profiles.
  3. Keep family computers in common areas. Computers don’t belong in bedrooms. Keep the computers your kids use in common family areas so their online activities can be supervised.
  4. Enable parental controls, but understand that they are not 100% effective. All browsers allow parents to restrict content based on age appropriateness or other factors. But understand that these features are not 100% effective, and parental oversight is still an important element of keeping your kids’ surfing habits under control.
  5. Understand that any internet-connected device can present risks. With the growth of “smart” phones, tablets, and other interconnected devices, it’s important to understand that the family computer is not the only way kids can access the Internet.
  6. Understand that “friend collecting” is competitive. Kids boast about the number of friends they’ve acquired on their social networks, because it feeds their natural desire to appear popular. School surveys show that 50-60% of kids admit to having social media friends or contacts that they have never met. Why is that important? Well, because…
  7. Friends are the common risk. Since social networks are an increasingly-common channel for child predators, it’s important to regularly monitor who your kids are friending on social networks.
  8. Talk to your kids about what is appropriate to share on their social networks – and what is not. Personal information about themselves or their family should never be shared, even with “friends”. This includes where they live, or where they go to school. Passwords and other account details should also never be shared.
  9. Help your kids understand that the reputation they develop online matters, well into adulthood. It’s now quite common for college admissions officials to scan social networks for information about applicants to their schools, and the majority of employers also do that as a matter of course.
  10. Help your kids understand that their actions online could negatively impact the larger family. More than half of children admit to downloading music and other files over peer-to-peer networks, which are rife with viruses and other malicious software. If their actions result in a virus being installed on the family computer, it may compromise the family’s bank account information, or even enable access to the corporate networks where Mom and Dad work.