4 easy ways to keep your kids safer when they're online

A new study suggests that parents know the internet can be risky for kids, but that we aren't doing much about it. Here are some steps to take.

4 easy ways to keep your kids safer when they're online

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Parents are well aware that their kids are at risk when using the internet, but many moms and dads take aren't taking necessary steps to ensure their safety, according to new information published in the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report.

The survey of more than 20,000 people in 20 countries, half of whom identified themselves as parents, found that 96 percent of moms and dads worry about their children's safety online. (Sound familiar?) A third say that either their kids or the children of someone they know have been bullied via online channels. Yet only a third of parents make an effort to constantly supervise their kids' online activities, including playing games, using social media and surfing the web. Even more troublesome, more than one in ten (11 percent) admit to making no effort to protect their kids online.

The good news is that 77 percent of parents say they monitor and control the content their kids access online. Here are four ways parents can do so.

1. Tech tools Plenty of technological tools are available to parents, including Norton's own Norton Family Premier suite, which lets moms and dads monitor how their kids are exploring the web and regulate what they can see and how much time they can spend engaging in specific online activities. A companion mobile app lets them keep tabs on what their kids are doing in real time even when they're not around. Other options, such as Net Nanny and Qustodio, are useful for filtering web content and blocking specific games and apps on the devices and networks you select.

2. Personal supervision That said, there's no substitute for personal supervision. Jinny Gudmundsen, editor of Tech with Kids magazine and longtime author of kid's tech columns for USA Today, believes the most important thing parents can do to keep their kids safe online is to watch what they're doing and communicate with them.

"While parents can use monitoring software, those tools don't teach your kids how to act," she says. "Remember that your goal is to provide your kids with knowledge so that they can be good digital citizens when they grow up. By paying attention to what they are doing and talking about it, you teach them how to navigate the complicated digital world we live in."

3. Ground rules How do you make this happen? Gudmundsen suggests families make it a rule for kids to use devices in public places within the home. "That means kids aren't using computers, tablets and phones in their rooms with the door closed," she explains. "With my two sons, we always had the rule that mom or dad could look over their shoulder at any time and when we did, the kids couldn't close any window that was open. They quickly learned that if they were doing something they didn't want us to see, then they shouldn't be doing it."

4. Communicate It's important that your kids see you as a solution to their digital dilemmas, not an obstacle to their freedom. Parents need to cultivate an atmosphere that makes kids feel comfortable coming to them when they have questions or concerns. Says Gudmundsen: "The most important thing you can do to keep your kids safe online is to talk to them about what they are doing."

This article was originally published on Jan 24, 2020

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