Parenting: Tips for keeping kids safe online

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Published By Amy Buckman  via ABCLocal

Feb. 21, 2012 (WPVI) — My sons Billy, who’s in 10th grade, and Micah, who’s in 5th, both go online to do homework.


Billy says he uses his school-issued laptop, “Mainly for schoolwork and getting my homework done,” but admits that sometimes he goes on Facebook as well. “We do have groups for school, for each of my classes, where we collaborate on different work and share study guides and go over the homework and stuff like that.”

Micah says, “In school we type stuff and outside of school we have certain homework assignments” including Study Island and First In Math that are done online.


Brian Valdez of Geek Squadsays because we can’t always be looking over our children’s shoulders when they’re online, it’s important to talk with them about internet safety.

“It’s important to sit down with them and set your expectations,” he says. “You have to be sure that they understand that, no matter what happens on there, it doesn’t go away.”

Tell kids not to give out personal information like their full names or hometown — even when they’re playing online games.

And Valdez advises taking advantage of parental controls — available both on computers’ operating systems and on various browsers — to lock out certain sites or searches the might not be appropriate.

“There’s programs like Net Nanny or Windows Live Family Safety which can really help block certain content that you don’t want them to have access to,” he explains.

And while sometimes it seems our kids know more about the internet than we do, as parents it’s important to let them know that we can and will access their search histories and chats. Often high schools or community colleges offer basic internet safety classes.

Here are more tips from Geek Squad for protecting your children while they’re online:
Filtering Software: Install filtering software such as NetNanny or the free Windows Live Family Safety 2011. These programs can help your kids surf the Internet safely – without being exposed to any inappropriate material. You can also consider setting up free filtering at the wireless router level with OpenDNS, which will ensure that all devices that connect to your home Internet are filtered.
Maximize Current Programs: Many computers already come with online safety programs. Learn how to accurately use Parental Controls in Windows and Mac Operating Systems, and other programs that aid in monitoring and managing what children view online. Maximize the use of programs you already have installed and at your fingertips.
LOL Does Not Mean ‘Learn Online Lingo’&But you should: Among the many networking sites are Facebook and Twitter. Learn how these sites work and the coded language commonly associated with them. We can consider citing this study that says teens are increasingly using Twitter because parents have figured out Facebook, so they think they’ll have more freedom where their parents aren’t.
Gaming Parental Controls: Many games have online modes, where your kids can play against others around the globe. It’s important to know who your kids are playing with and what content they can access. Set parental controls on games to protect your kids without affecting their gaming experience.
Control Your Kids’ Online Environment: Windows Vista features parental controls that help parents monitor what kids can access on a computer – even when they’re not in the room or at home. Parents can select what games, programs and websites children can access. Time restrictions can even be set to ensure that the kids are following the rules even when mom and dad are not home. This feature is found in the Parental Controls panel and is part of the User Accounts and Family Safety Control Panel applet.

Read more Parenting Perspective blogs by visiting the Parenting Channel on

(Copyright ©2012 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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