Part 2: At Home
Not only should we be concerned about our student’s internet safety at school, we should also be concerned for their safety at home. If our child has access to a computer at home that is not password protected they have access to the internet. Once our children become internet savvy, they can browse for any information. Therefore, it is important to have regular dialogue with our kids about the internet, surfing, etc. A few years ago, the day after Christmas, my 6 year old daughter was playing on a tablet she received from her grandparents. She is pretty quick to figure things out and soon learned how to use Google voice search. She was searching for all kinds of fun things and at first I thought, “Wow, this is so educational. Look at all the things she is learning about with so little effort.” Then she said the phrase, “American girl dogs.” Fortunately, I happened to be looking over her shoulder and saw an inappropriate you tube video. Or at least one I didn’t want her to see. Diverting her attention, I set the tablet up until I could learn more about securing her new toy.
One app I found for Android tablets is called Kids Place. Once installed and activated the app allows the parent to control what apps the child (ages 2 to 10) can use. The parent chooses what apps go on the tablet then gives her access to them through Kids Place. This allows me to keep the Chrome browser etc on the tablet so that when she wants to surf for information, we do it together. One key item to look for when choosing an app that blocks content is 1) does it re-enable if the device is powered off 2) Does it re-enable automatically when it is reset 3) How easy it is to recover your password.
The iPad has the feature built into the device in the general settings, under restrictions. The restrictions allow parents to control what apps are on the device, prevent apps from being uploaded and deleted, and control the use of Safari, Apples Browser.
While there are many articles written on the topic of internet safety, there are two safety tips that appear in every reference. First, do not let children browse freely. Dave King, chief executive of online reputation management company Digitalis says, “The first and most fundamental principle is that my children never browse unaccompanied.” Second, be involved. “Parents have to get involved. Just as they know every detail of the playground around the corner – the jungle gym, the swings – they need to know their kids online playground as well,” says Tim Lordan, staff director of the Internet Education Foundation, a non-profit group that produced the online safety guide GetNetWise.
If you are looking for ways to get involved, consider visiting NetSmartKidz for some interactive games, lessons, teaching materials and videos geared for kids ages 5 to 10. You will find a robot named Clicky, who talks to kids about sharing their personal information, how they communicate online and what to do when something doesn’t feel ‘right’. This kid friendly site can open opportunities for you to dialogue with your child about the internet.
Regardless of what tools you use to keep your kids safe online, the bottom line is that parents must be proactive. For more resources: