Ten tips to keep your children safe while online

Published 12/05/2004 16:07   |    Updated 23/04/2008 11:37

Where can I get some tips about keeping my children safe while they are online?

  1. Discover the Internet together.

    Discovering the Internet together is advantageous for both parents and children. Look for web sites that are exciting and fun and together you’ll achieve a positive and conscious attitude to Internet exploration. This in turn, could make it easier to share both positive and negative experiences in the future.

  2. Agree with your child on guidelines for Internet use in your home.

    Try to agree a set of guidelines with your child, for Internet use in your home. Here are some tips to get started:

    • How to treat your personal information (name, address, telephone, email)
    • How to behave towards others on the net (chat, emailing, messaging)
    • What type of sites and activities are OK or not OK in our family

  3. Encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information.

    Parents should be aware that, in order to access content on many children’s websites, personal information must be submitted. You and your child should be conscious of when and where it is all right to reveal personal information. A simple rule could be that the child should not give out their name, phone number or picture without your approval.

  4. Talk about the risks associated with meeting online friends face to face.

    Adults should understand that the Internet could be a positive meeting place for children, where they can get to know other children and make new friends. To avoid unpleasant experiences, however, it’s important that children do not meet strangers they have met on the Internet - without being accompanied by an adult, friends or others that you trust. In any case, the child should always have their parents' approval first.

  5. Teach your child about source criticism on the Internet.

    Most children use the Internet to improve and develop knowledge in relation to school work and personal interests. Internet users should be aware that not all information found online is correct. Educate children on how to verify information they find by comparing to alternative sources on the same topic.

  6. Don't be too critical towards your child's exploration of the Internet.

    Children may come across adult material by accident on the Web. They might mistype a web address or inadvertently click on a malicious link. You could use this as an opportunity to discuss the content with them and perhaps make rules about what they should do when they encounter inappropriate content. Be realistic in your assessment of how your child uses the Internet. Curiosity might get the better of them from time to time. It is best for everyone to have a clear understanding of what you deem to be acceptable.

  7. Report online material you may consider illegal to the appropriate authorities.

    It is vital that we all take responsibility for the Web and report matters which we believe could be illegal to www.hotline.ie. By doing this we can help to prevent illegal activities online, such as child-pornography or attempts to lure children via chat, mail or messaging. The hotline has mechanisms for getting this type of content taken down. It also has links with similar organisations across the globe so that the criminals can be brought to book even if they are outside our jurisdiction.

  8. Encourage good Netiquette.

    Netiquette is the informal code of conduct for the Internet. As in everyday life, there are informal ethical rules for how to behave when relating to other people on the Internet. These include being polite, using correct language and not yell at (write in capital letters) or harass others. Also, children as well as grown ups should not read one other’s email or copy protected material.

  9. Know your child’s Internet use.

    To be able to guide your child’s Internet use, it is important to understand how children use the Internet and know what they like to do online. Let your child show you which websites they like visiting and what they do there. Acquiring technical knowledge could also make it easier to make the right decisions regarding your child’s Internet use.

  10. Remember that the positive aspects of the Internet outweigh the negatives.

    The Internet is an excellent educational and recreational resource for children. Encourage your child to be aware and to explore the Internet to its full potential.


See also: Guidelines for children's Internet usage and examples of some kid friendly websites.


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