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How to Help Kids Surf the Internet Safely

March 05, 2018

​This generation is a digital one: a recent Nielsen study shows that over 75% of kids are on a mobile plan by the time they’re 12 years old, and most of those plans include text messaging and data. Another study found that kids under 9 are already spending more than 2 hours a day on screens. All that Internet exposure, much of it without adult supervision, leaves many parents and guardians wondering how to protect their increasingly tech-savvy kids. It’s a big risk and a big challenge that we’ll tackle over a series of articles.

​To begin, let’s talk about how you can keep your child away from dangerous websites and content. Here are five simple strategies:

  1. Use parental controls to limit access to websites from their phone or computer, especially for younger kids. There are plenty of good apps available, and many offer you the ability to also monitor your child’s activity.
  2. Check the privacy settings on your child’s device and make sure pop-ups are blocked and automatic connections are disabled.
  3. Teach kids to be wary about going to sites that offer stuff like free software. This is a lesson that everyone should learn early: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Also explain that bad software can mess up their computer or phone so badly they won’t be able to use it. That should get their attention!
  4. Warn kids never to click on links in email from someone they don’t know or links on ads that pop up on their browser or phones.
  5. Make sure kids know how to shut down browser windows quickly if something unexpected happens, such as a download starting or inappropriate content or texts from a stranger suddenly appearing. And ask them to tell you right away about what happened.

​Most important, talk to your children about the hazards of the Internet, just as you talk to them about “stranger danger.” No controls or privacy settings can protect against every risk, so it’s vital to educate children so they can protect themselves from Internet hazards. It’s their first step towards growing up as safe, responsible citizens of the worldwide web.

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