In the past 20 years, the Internet has changed the way we do most things. Of course, this brings a new challenge to parenting: Internet safety. Le Bonheur Child Life Director Thomas Hobson shares some ways you can protect your children.

  • Limit the amount of screen time: With TV, video games, cell phones and other electronic devices, children are spending more time than ever exposed to the Internet. The less time a child spends online, the smaller the opportunity to be exposed to inappropriate Internet content.
  • Know the sites: Are there sites that your child visits often? Check them out. The more you know about them, the better you can decide what you will and will not let them access on it.
  • Talk about the Internet: There seems like there is a “talk” about everything, but Internet safety should definitely be one of them. It is important for parents to talk with their child about what to share and what to keep private, sites to visit, and general online behavior. These conversations are great opportunities to talk about cyber bullying and how to handle those behaviors.
  • Keep the computer in the open: In home design, it’s easy to want to hide the computer to get it out of a public space. However, I would recommend the opposite. If your child’s access to a computer is in an area that’s easily monitored, there is a less likely chance of your child accessing inappropriate Internet content. This also helps to keep an idea of how much time your child is spending on the computer.
  • Invest in net tracking/site-blocking software: As much as we try, we simply can’t be all places at all times. There are some wonderful, easy to use software on the market that can both help track your child’s Internet usage and help block inappropriate content. These are great tools help even when you can’t be there.
  • Don’t forget about devices: When talking about Internet safety, it’s easy to focus simply on a computer, but the fact is children can access the Internet through a number of other devices: e-readers, cell phones, tablets and more. The good news is that most of these devices have restriction settings, so don’t be afraid to use them.

As a parent, I both love and hate the Internet. It provides me with tools and information to teach my children about any number of topics and expose them to a world of information. However, there is a side of the Internet that worries me. My goal is to take every possible step to keep them safe.