NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Creating a Cybersafe Home

Creating a Cybersafe Home

 

                It’s no secret that the fastest way to resolve a computer problem or answer an Internet question is to ask a school age child.  Youngsters take to technology, including the Internet, like ducks to water.  And while the Internet has a wealth of reliable information, games and online happenings that are positive learning experiences for children, it has also proven over and over again that it is not an entirely safe place for children.  How is a parent to help their children make the most of their virtual space while keeping them safe in it?   Consider the following tips to help ensure that your child’s online experience remains positive.

                1. Become a net-savvy parent - The best safeguard against online dangers is being informed. Jump in and learn the basics of the Internet—read articles, take a class, and talk to other parents2.                 2. "Chat" with your kids about the Internet.  Develop an open dialogue so that you can talk with your kids about the benefits and dangers of the Internet. Cultivate an interest in their online activities—their favorite Web sites, online games, and interests. Ask your children who they are talking to online and what they are talking about.

                3. Agree on a game plan.  Ensure that your kids know to never share personal information on the Internet and that they should tell you about any online activity or contact that makes them uncomfortable.

                4. Protect your computer.  Take advantage of the software that exists to help parents manage their children’s computer experience. In only a few minutes, parental control software can block inappropriate websites, restrict the amount of time that your kids use the Internet and monitor their Instant Messenger chats to protect against predators.

                5. Be on the lookout for cyberbullying.  Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

                6. Take action against cyberbullying. Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, skip school, experience in-person bullying, receive poor grades, have lower self-esteem and have more health problems. Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with. Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use. Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied.

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