How and Why Parents Should Learn About the Internet

Internet Safety for Kids:  How and Why Parents Should Learn About the Internet

Are you the parent of a child who uses the internet or the parent of a child who will start using the internet soon?  If you are, you should know that the internet is a great way to stay up-to-date on the news, do research for school projects, and communicate with friends, but it can also be very dangerous.  As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure that your child stays safe online.  Unfortunately, for this to happen you must know your way around a computer and the internet.  Do you?

A child should never know more than a parent does about the internet.  At the very least, you should know about the same.  If you are looking to block adult websites or websites that have offensive language, it will not do you any good if your teenager knows ways to get around the parental controls that you set.  That is why it is important that you know how to use a computer and the internet or learn if you don’t know.

Another reason why you should be well educated on the internet and computer use is because you are better able to fully understand the dangers of them.  You may hear that an internet predator approached or kidnapped a child on the news, but you may automatically assume that it will not happen to your child.  Unfortunately, until you understand how the internet works, you really have no idea.  Does your child use internet chat rooms or social networking websites?  If so, do you know how easy the internet makes it for someone to create a whole new, fake identity?

A good understanding of computer and internet use can better enable you to protect your child.  Do you know that Internet Explorer, the browser that comes standard, has a free parental control option that just needs to be activated?  A few easy steps and you can have certain websites blocked from your child.  Unfortunately, you won’t know this if you don’t know all that you can know about the computer or the internet.  Speaking of the internet, additional online safety tools for parents can be purchased online as well.

Now that you know the importance of staying in the know about the internet and a computer in general, you may be curious as to how you can go about doing so.  The good news is that there are a number of ways that you can learn all that you need to know about computer and internet use.  A few of these ways are outlined below for your convenience.

Teaching yourself is an easy way to learn about the internet and computer use.  In fact, what better way is there than to just jump on the computer and see what you can find.  For starters, examine your computer or your internet browser for free internet safety tools for parents. You may also want to visit some of the websites that your child visits, just to see what they are subjecting themselves to.  Visit their online profile for MySpace, Facebook, or another social networking website.  Does it make you uneasy?  Are the discussions taking place in your child’s favorite chat room too adult?

You can also ask a trusted friend or relative for help.  Do not ask your child or teenager for help though.  If they know that you want to set up parental controls or keep tabs on their internet use, they may withhold important information from you.  Instead, invite a trusted friend or relative over for coffee and lunch and let them show you the ins and outs of the internet.  All you really need is a couple of hours.

You can also take an internet or computer education course.  These courses are sometimes offered for free or for an affordable fee by local community groups, colleges, or vocational training centers.  In fact, see if your child’s school offers anything.  Some schools host informational seminars for parents on internet safety about once a year.

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