Five tips as kids start using the web
At various ages, our kids will start thinking of social networking and other such entertainment on the web. You know what, given the age we live in, we wont be able to stop them. But based on what I have learnt from school and friends and parents, here are five most effective tips. What are your suggestions? Please add!
- Keep the computer in the living room or kitchen or some such highly trafficed areas. If you allow laptops for your children, their use (and their charger) should be restricted to the main area. I would recommend getting a desktop for your kids and not a laptop as they start using the computer on their own. Several people have told me that that is the most effective control. In no case allow computers in the basement, office room or their bedroom. You may not always be there in the kitchen, but it sends a signal that ‘you are watching’
- Talk to your kids on what to say and not to say on the computer. You will be surprised to hear that this can start early as age 4 or 5. The children should know not to reveal personal information in emails or other sites such as address, phone numbers etc. If any registration is needed, they should know that they need to contact you for registration.
- Social Networking for kids: Probably the trickiest area to control as kids start thinking about privacy. Supervise their account and security settings but let them do it on their own. Explain why for everything so that in case they are setting up a secret account (happens more often than you think) they know what to do. Explain why everything such as status updates, photographs, etc should be visible only to ‘Friends’. They should be friends with people they know.
- Teach good sense Netiquette: Explain that passwords need to be difficult and not to be shared with anyone. Avoid passwords such as girlfriend or boyfriends name, favorite hobby, name etc. Ask them not to click on ads specially ones that shout out ‘You are the 100,000th visitor and have won something’. Ask them not to click on links on emails from sites they do not know, no matter how convincing they are. Talk about the junk mails from Kenya and other scams
- Deglamorize the web : Through example and interaction with your kids, use the web extensively (so that they dont consider you a last gen extinct species) but talk to them about how you use it. Involve the kids in other activities like game night, walks, talking at the dinner table, going to the park etc. Dont make the web a place of mystery. Talk of scams and security threats.
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