The internet opens up a world of educational opportunities, but it’s important for parents to err on the side of caution in today’s uber-connected world. “Today’s students have grown up with technology and are very aware of the internet’s many avenues to discover and learn,” says Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center. “However, it’s essential that parents are up on best practices in digital safety and that they educate their children on the dangers of the internet.”
Huntington offers parents these internet safety tips:
- Talk about the risks. Naivety online can be downright dangerous. It’s important for parents to make sure their children know that some people on the internet might pretend to be helpful or nice when they are not. They need to understand why they should never share personal information with anyone online. And it’s also essential that children recognize that their online behavior is just as important as their “real world” behavior. Parents and children need to talk about the risks of sharing too much on social media and the fact that embarrassing themselves online could come back to haunt them when it comes time to apply to colleges.
- Avoid playing spy. It’s tempting for parents to want to control their children’s every move and spy on what they do online. Eventually, however, this only promotes a household culture of mistrust. Also, as children grow older, they will become savvy enough to figure out how to hide what they’re doing. A better approach is one where parents communicate with their children about house rules and expectations regarding technology and cyber safety. Even when monitoring their children’s online activity, parents should respect their privacy.
- Invest in parental control software. It’s a smart idea to install a parental control tool that monitors all of your family’s internet-connected devices. There are lots of options out there (check out Qustodio, Net Nanny, and Norton Family for starters), but make sure whatever you choose lets you control device usage, filter content to block access to inappropriate websites and keep a detailed log of web activity.
- Create a contract. Setting expectations is an important step toward holding children accountable, and a contract can help do that. Make sure your internet/digital safety contract addresses the following:
- Never giving out personal information (including name, phone number, address and school name) online
- Rules for online use (time limits and times of day)
- Never giving out passwords to anyone, even friends
- Never sending people pictures without checking with parents first
- Being a good online citizen and never doing anything unethical or mean online
- Never making plans to meet someone in person that your child met online
- Talking to mom and dad about any inappropriate or uncomfortable online interactions that your child is a part of or witnesses
Lastly, Huntington urges parents to keep the lines of communication open. “We live in a time when people get hurt and scammed online every day and even damage their lives by making poor choices online,” she says. “Parents, teach your children internet safety from an early age and talk about it often. The more you educate your child now, the better equipped he or she will be to stay safe online as a teen and young adult.”
Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible. Learn how Huntington can help at www.huntingtonhelps.com. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.