Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Internet Safety and Your Daughter

Photo From FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I recently watched an internet safety video on NSTeens. I noticed when the teens were asked if their parents knew what they were doing online, they responded with: “My mom does.” I thought: “Where is dad? Isn’t dad involved? If other families are like mine, my dad knows more about computers than my mom.” Yet, it is mom who is usually involved the most with internet activity.

Your daughter is at risk online without the appropriate safety measures (not that a son isn’t, there are just differences). For instance, your daughter is likely to go on the internet to connect socially with peers, but also to expand her social circle. If she is struggling in getting a boy’s attention, she may look for attention online. The risk is that you never know who is at the other end of the conversation.

There are some simple things that you can do to encourage your daughter to be safe online.

(1) Limit chat rooms. Open chat rooms are a place where predators can easily put on a fake profile. It is difficult to know who is on the other end of a chat room conversation. Only use systems like MSN, Skype, or Facebook to chat. Since with these programs you are able to choose who you want to be on your friends list. Encourage your daughter to not add anyone who she doesn’t know in-person, or remove someone she wouldn’t say ‘Hi’ to in person.

(2) Have controls on the webcam. Webcams are great, especially when paired with something like Skype. You are able to talk, and see, a family member or friend, who is far away. However, only a quick glimpse at some of the top rated videos on Google or YouTube shows how a webcam can get out of control. If the webcam is a separate part to the computer, only bring it out when needed.

(3) Let the internet sleep when you do. I have heard of a family where they take the internet router to bed with them. Dad will literally unplug it and put it in his room, so that no one is on the internet alone at night. Or set up online controls that block you off the internet at certain times.

(4) Keep the computer in a family area. Make sure the home computer is in a high-traffic area of the house, so that it is always being monitored. Yes, in this day and age of wireless laptops it can be difficult to keep an eye on what she does all the time. But encourage her to do her online activities in a family area.

(5) Be involved with your daughter’s online activities. Let her know that online actions have offline consequences. Be aware of what she is doing online. Subscribing to her feeds on her profile will help you know exactly what she is posting online. It would be beneficial to know her passwords to all of her accounts. Go through internet history with your daughter, and discuss any concerns you may have, or praise her for being net smart. These actions may come across to your daughter as you not trusting her. She needs to know that you do trust her, but it is the other people that you don’t trust.

I recommend going to NetSmartz.org for more information on internet safety tips.

How do you manage the internet and keep your family safe?

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