Can you make the Internet Safe for your kids?

Regina Mullennix
In today’s technologically savvy society, it’s almost certain our children will have access to a computer or cell phone at a very young age. Here are a few suggestions to keep your kids safe along the way.
One of the first things new parents do in preparation for the birth of a baby is childproof their home with everything from outlet covers to safety gates to prevent injuries as their little ones learn to navigate the world.  Yet many of these prepared parents fail to realize that kids need just as much protection and guidance in cyberspace as they do in the physical world.  In today’s technologically savvy society, it’s almost certain our children will have access to a computer or cell phone at a very young age. Here are a few suggestions to keep your kids safe along the way.
  1. Younger children should always use the internet in a public space such as a family room, and a parent should always be checking usage frequently.  It’s important for children to know privacy does not apply when cruising the web.
  2. Teach identity safety.  Make sure your children know never to share personal information like e-mail addresses, phone numbers, their picture or school.  Explain that people asking for these details are strangers who could be asking for this information for reasons that could put their family at risk.  If they really want to provide information to enter a contest to win a free Disney vacation, they must always ask you first.
  3. Make sure you restrict inappropriate access.  Even if your child understands appropriate online behavior, it is very easy to accidentally come across unseemly sites online.  A child searching for the word “lego” could easily miss the last letter and be searching for “leg”.  A mistake this small could lead to a pornographic website. Most operating systems like Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OS and Google Chrome come with robust parental controls.  Smart phones and tablets have them as well.  These are free and included with the devices.  You can also download apps such as Bark and TeenSafe to monitor your children’s texts and social media.  These apps alert parents to things like cyberbullying and sexting.
  4. Talk to your older children about their internet reputation.  Let them know that if it’s online, it’s public information.  Social media accounts are hacked all the time and sometimes even friends share information.  If they wouldn’t want grandma to see it, they shouldn’t post it.  They also need to realize that things they post can affect them forever.  College recruiters and hiring managers often review applicants’ social media accounts before making their final decisions.
  5. Keep an eye on your child’s online relationships and remind them that if they’re communicating with someone they don’t know in real life, there’s no way of knowing whether that person is really who they say they are.
 
At Monte Cassino, we have multiple layers of internet filtering including Barracuda, a web filter that blocks students from accessing inappropriate or distracting content such as games, streaming media, and sexual or violent material.  This filter is always active and applies to every device that is connected to our network.  Students are also required to sign a pledge each year promising not to neglect or abuse their devices and to use them in an appropriate fashion as outlined in our school handbook.  For more information about Monte Cassino Catholic School please contact our staff now at 918.742.3364.
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