Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Four Practices of A Cyber Savvy Parent

With the use of cellphones, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and countless other forms of technology rapidly increasing-and the ages they are being used at rapidly decreasing- many parents are beginning to worry about being left in the dust of this social networking storm

Various parental controls have proven themselves to be relatively effective, but it's not the entire solution to keeping your kids safe online. The variety of software devices parents can use to limit their children's access when surfing the Internet or turning on the TV are definitely helpful, but kids' seemingly infinite knowledge has allowed many of them to figure out ways to get around these boundaries, far exceeding our own knowledge of such technology. Luckily for parents, there are certain practices to try and limit sneaky online behavior and emphasize safe Internet use-five of which we've laid out for you!

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1. Communicate
Opening up a dialogue between you and your children is key when it comes to appropriate use of the Internet, cell phone, television, and other various forms of technology. Make sure to be clear with your children what sites and shows you consider acceptable and appropriate and which you do not. 

2. Familiarize 
There are so many sites that are popular for kids and teens, with new ones popping up every day, that it can seem overwhelming. Ask your kids to take you online and show you what sites they are surfing and how they work. Becoming more familiar with what they're up to can minimize confusion and maximize supervision. 

3. Centralize
Put the computer so it is in a central, open space in your house. For example, in the kitchen or living room. This way it is easier to view and monitor what it is they are getting up to and limits the amount of unsupervised Internet use. 

4. Create Awareness
Along with the increasing use of technology comes increased exposure to potential predators or cyber bullying. Be sure to stress the importance of never ever giving out personal information online about themselves or family and friends. Explain to them the dangers of talking to strangers online and why it is crucial they don't engage in such risky behavior. Also talk to your children about cyber bullying. It is important they understand that whether they are being bullied or if they are the bullies themselves, that such behavior is not acceptable in any way and they need to tell an adult they trust if such behavior is occurring. 

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