As nice as it is to hear that you should be active, involved, and in the know when it comes to your child or teenager and the internet, you may be wondering what is so important about doing so. Although you may use the internet to search for jobs online or pay your bills, it is important to remember that there is so much more out there. Your child can and may be doing more than just doing research for a school project. They may be using online chat rooms, private instant messaging programs, and social networking websites.
As for why online chat rooms, private instant messaging programs, and social networking sites are dangerous, it is important to remember that the internet makes it easy to pretend to be someone else. Your child may unknowingly end up making a 50 year old friend, thinking that friend is their own age. Information posted online has also been used for harassment or harmful purposes when otherwise high school or junior high school friends have a falling out.
Now that you know the importance of staying updated and in the know about your child’s internet use, you may be curious as to how you can go about doing so. The good news is that it is relatively easy to do so.
The first step is to make sure that you are computer literate yourself. Do you know how to check your computer’s internet history? Better yet, do you even know what a computer’s internet history is or does? If not, you will want to take a computer course or ask a trusted friend or relative, other than your child, to give you a crash course. You will want to learn as much as you can about the internet and a computer, but be sure to know about parental controls, a computer’s internet history, and so forth.
Speaking of checking your computer’s internet history, be sure that you do so. Your computer’s internet history records all of the websites that are visited within the last week or past few days. To do so, open up a new Internet Explorer window. Towards the top of the page you should see a number of icons. Click on the one that has a clock with a green arrow partly around it. This should be the computer’s internet history. What websites has your teenager or child visited?
Another easy way to stay involved in your child’s internet use is to set parental controls. Most computers come standard with them. Make your parental controls password protected. Do not give your child the password, but do use it to unlock websites that may innocently be blocked on accident, like those needed for a school research project.
Moving your child’s computer into a family room or a frequently traveled room is advised. In fact, your child should be able to use a shared family computer. This tends to limit the visiting of potential dangerous chat rooms and social networking websites, as most teens like to view these sites in private. If you must, limit your child’s use of the computer to certain times, like when you are home or in the room.
Be sure to talk to your child about the dangers of the internet. Let them know that it is possible to meet internet predators online, especially with the use of private chat rooms or social networking websites. Let them know that if they are harassed, whether it be by someone they know or don’t know, contact you immediately. You may, in turn, want to contact the proper authorities.