One of the great challenges facing modern parents is keeping their children safe online. There are various state laws and filtering settings that are aimed at helping parents, but many people are unaware of these resources and not sure where to discover them. In the sections ahead, we will cover the basics and point parents in the right direction.
Conversations About Internet Safety
Perhaps the most common mistake parents make in the internet age is not involving their children in the discussion. Just like choosing TV shows or movies to stream that is kid-friendly, these can certainly be tough talks, but internet experiences will help shape young people for better or worse. If you need assistance, Google has a wonderful Be Internet Awesome program that is free and provides resources to help parents set boundaries and inform their children.
ISP Parental Controls
Most internet providers like Spectrum in America offer parental controls. If you are unsure what tools are available to you, you should call your ISP and discuss them. Many ISPs also have guides available online. Be mindful that parental controls do vary between ISPs. If you are currently shopping for Internet service and have competition in your area, parental tools may be a deciding point for you.
Children’s Internet Protection Act
The CIPA governs how internet content is filtered in public schools and libraries. Through CIPA, every state in the union has its own set of laws that provide additional measures. Check the appropriate website for your particular state not only to find out about the child protection laws that apply to your family but to learn about the parental resources that may be available to you locally.
Content filtering is the first line of defense in protecting your children. You likely have a security app available through your ISP. There are also third-party programs available that you have to pay for but which can expand your capabilities even further. While it can be a bit daunting for parents who are not tech-savvy, such apps are generally very user-friendly and effective at blocking content.
Schedule Internet Access
Professionals who specialize in parenting recommend a set schedule for Internet usage. This ensures that children have enough time for other activities and have balance in their life. It also gives you control over when children are consuming content. If your children can only use the internet when you are home, for instance, then they are less likely to experience the kind of content you want to avoid.
Teach Children Internet Safety Best Practices
The conversation about Internet safety with your children should be ongoing and it should involve what not to do and why. Parents should never assume that their children understand not to post personal information online and why doing so can be dangerous. Phishing techniques can be very effective against children, and kids should be instructed to check with their parents prior to uploading any images, entering their personal information and so forth.
Approved Websites Only
The most effective way to block content is to use an internet filtering program to block all content that is not approved. Initially, this means that all content is blocked, and parents will have to approve websites on a case-by-case basis. This may be a bit extreme for the average household but is an effective option for the parent dealing with a child who is seeking out the content you want to avoid.