Does your child use computer? If it does not, when it gets just a little older surely it will. It is no wonder that children become more advanced users of Internet and software than their parents.
When we decide to allow our children online access, it would be preferred to have good knowledge how to instruct and protect them, and from the other side not to hinder them in gaining knowledge and skills they will surely need in this age. As so many other things, Internet can be good or bad - depending how it is used.
What should parents do?
1. Restrict daily usage of computer. Set custom profile on PC operating system so child can access it for determined amount of hours every day. Profiles for the rest of household protect by password.
2. If possible, never put PC in children's room. Place it where whole family frequently passes by. If you have more computers and ability to make working place (part of room) where every child would sit next to its PC, that would greatly improve your insight in their online activities.
3. Older children and teenagers frequently use slang in their communication, so even if you look at their chat it can be hard to understand. Learn as much as you can about popular Internet slang and acronyms.
4. Talk with your children about their Internet activities. Introduce them to potentially unpleasant situations that may occur and discuss best ways to deal with it. Explain to them what are computer viruses and how to protect. Show them by examples which sites are credible and which are not. Teach them to guard private information and to act responsibly online. In the same manner as you teach them not to talk to strangers in the street, teach them to act like that online too. Explain them that not everyone is what he appears to be on the Internet.
5. Encourage children continually to report to you every conversation or contact they feel bad about. Tell them not to erase such messages, so you can examine it further when needed. Bear in mind results of researches which list children's fear of taking away their online access as top reason for their hiding of harassing situations.
6. Track sites that your child visits. Block websites you don't want them to visit by some Internet filter . If you allow them access to social networks like Facebook, set up their privacy settings and follow their activities through their profile.
7. At the end - take real interest in what your child do online. Find time to visit his favorite site with it, play a game and discuss it. Create some mutual online space, so child would be more open to share its experiences with you. Build an atmosphere of trust where your child will be relaxed enough to ask you questions and start conversations about their Internet activities.
Even if previously you were not particularly interested in all of this, accept new technologies as integral part of life of your children and their generation. Find the time to familiarize yourself with it and help children to use them in right and safe way.