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How to Protect Your Children When Using the Internet

May 23, 2008
Are you the parent of a child or a teen who uses the internet? If so, you likely already know that the internet can be a dangerous place for a child, especially if your child uses online chat rooms or social networking websites. For that reason, there are a number of steps that you, as a parent, will want to take to protect your child when they use the internet.

The first step that you should take, to help keep your child safe online, is to know as much as you can about computers and the internet. Did you know that there are ways for you to see which websites have been visited on a computer? Did you know that some computers already have parental controls installed on them that just need to be set? You can only benefit from these tools that can help to protect your child if you know that they do exist.

Speaking of parental controls, be sure to know what your computer has. If you have an older model computer, you may benefit from purchasing additional software programs. These programs can easily be found for sale online or in most media or office supply stores. As for the programs that may already be on your computer, open up a new Internet Explorer window. From the main headings at the top of the page, click on "Tools" and then "Internet Options." A new window will appear; highlight the "Content" tab and right away you will see an option that lets you block certain content from showing on a computer.

In keeping with parental controls, don't give into a child who complains about them being used. If you create a password to override these controls, which you may need if your whole family shares a computer, that password can also be used for your teenager. Don't give them the password though. Use it to unblock certain sites that they ask and you first approve.

Another easy way that you can protect your child when they use the internet is to have the computer in a frequently traveled room. You can also limit the use of certain websites, like social networking websites or internet chat rooms. Make them only available when you are home or in the same room. If your child has their own computer, like a laptop that they can take anywhere with them, be sure to check the internet history of their computer randomly every week or so.

Speaking of which, do not let your child have their own login information. When you first turn on a computer, you often see a button that says someone's name. Many families use one standard account. Your child can easily create their own. If they do, do not let them have their own password. This can make it difficult or impossible for you to examine their online activities. Having you checkup on their online activities may not be something that your teen likes, but you likely purchased the computer and you, as the parent, have the right to check.

As it was previously stated, you will want to check the internet history of a child who has their own computer or if your child uses the family computer when you are not home. If you have Internet Explorer, which most computers do, open a new internet window. Towards the top of the page, you will see a menu bar with a number of pictured icons. You can check the history of a computer by clicking on the icon with a clock and a small green arrow. This should tell you which websites your teenager has been viewing online.

Finally, it is important that you talk with your teenager about the dangers of using the internet, namely social networking websites or internet chat rooms. Teach them what to do if they are harassed online or approached by an internet predator. Make sure they know not to erase the information, but rather to save it or show it to you right away, especially if you decide to contact your local police department.
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