Parenting in the digital age presents issues our parents never had to consider. From social media to cell phones, how can we ensure that our children are safe? We asked the experts to weigh in, and here's what they had to say:
1. Communicate. It is important to engage in open conversation with your kids about using the Internet, including how to be safe and why it is so important. Depending on the age of your child, you can use appropriate language to explain the "dangers" to them so that they know it is a real issue.
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Keep the lines of communication open at all times and encourage your children to tell you right away if they experience anything online that causes them to feel strange or uncomfortable. — Becky Richardson
2. Maintain trust. The greatest advantage you can have in the area of online safety for your kids is a trusting, two-way relationship with them. When your kids know and trust that you "have their back" and that the choices you make for them are not a punishment, but out of love for them, it makes a difference.
As the parent, you can show your child that you also trust them by communicating in a respectful way and giving them the tools they need to use the Internet without your constant supervision. (This includes safety measures.) — Becky Richardson
3. Trust your gut ... and teach your kids to trust theirs. There is no better way to know when a situation is unsafe than by trusting your intuition. If you don't feel right about a website or video or a "chat friend," block it, change the password, don't allow access to it or them. Guide your children in understanding what it means to honor their "gut" instinct, and practice it yourself. — Becky Richardson
4. Use your resources. Set up parental controls on all computers that your kids will be using to filter out obvious inappropriate content. Of course, monitor the Internet activity of your kids regularly, and let them know that it is part of the privilege they have of using the computer online.
5. Inform them. Let them know that you will be periodically checking their texts and postings online. Letting them know that you will be checking in on them will help keep them from straying online. — Neil McNerney
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