4 ways to keep your kids safe online
No longer do kids sit in front of a family computer in the living room, but instead they use portable devices, like laptops, tablets and smart phones that provide more access to the Internet than ever before.
One study found that more than 50 percent of American kids regularly use a computer or tablet by the time they turn 5-years-old.
While these devices offer kids a world of opportunity, they can also lead kids into some dangerous situations without even realizing it, says Dr. Chris Jamerson, pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
“It’s easy for kids to forget that they actually don’t know the people they meet online,” he says. “I often remind kids that everyone on the Internet is a stranger if you have not met the person face-to-face.”
Dr. Jamerson offers the following tips for parents to keep in mind to ensure their children stay safe while surfing the web:
Limit screen time. No more than two hours of screen time per day should be allowed. Kids on the Internet longer than two hours can lead to trouble. They start to run out of things to do which can lead to landing on sites they should not be on or talking to strangers on social media sites.
Set guidelines. Talk to your kids and set guidelines so they know what they can and cannot do online. This should be done with an explanation of why talking to strangers online or visiting certain sites is not allowed so that kids are able to see the risks. Parents should stress the importance of never providing names, addresses, age, school location, phone numbers or passwords to someone over the Internet.
Have a conversation. Engage in a conversation with your kids when they are offline. Talk about what they did, what websites they visited and what information they were looking for. By having these conversations regularly it is easier for parents to know what their kids are doing online and it also opens the door for kids to tell them if something happened on the Internet that made them feel uncomfortable.
Check their usage. Newer devices have built in tracking devices where parents can go back and look at all the sites their kids have visited. These products allow parents to make sure their child is not visiting sites that you as a parent do not approve of. Parental controls can also be set up to block certain sites that may have inappropriate content.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.