Hand-outsParenting in a Digital World - great advice from Emily McMason of Evolving Parents
Top 5 Tips for Parents - from Holly and Sam
RecommendedGreat Conversations - Helping PRETEENS and their FAMILIES in CONVERSATIONS
about Body Changes, Sex, and other GROWING UP STUFF. Also, classes for TEENS.
I attended "For Girls Only" in 2011 and wrote about it here. I'm signed up to go again this spring!
How to Talk to Your Kids About National Tragedies
The Healthy Sex Talk: Teaching Kids Consent: Ages 1-21
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Parental Controls/Filtering at Home
If you have a shared family computer at home, it's a good idea to set up a separate account on it for your child to use. Not only does this protect your information from them, but it gives them a place to save their passwords, bookmark sites they use frequently, and customize the "look" of the computer in a manner that doesn't drive everyone else in your family nuts. If your child has their own laptop, setting up an administrator account as the adult in charge allows you to create separate "General Use" accounts for multiple people (recommended for younger users).
The decision to restrict access or enforce electronic time limits is one each family makes individually, and you need to figure out what works for you. You can use Parental Controls to control time spent on the computer, websites to which your kids have access, and whether or not they can use certain applications. For more information about enabling Parental Controls see the following:
I also wanted to pass on a bit of information about creating a safer online experience for your kids. At school, we have a firewall in place that protects us from extreme content, and we purposely choose to use services that limit or prohibit advertising. Families don't typically have something like this at home, but you can absolutely take steps to block/filter advertising or inappropriate language on your own computers and devices.
Activate Google Safe Search - SafeSearch filters provide you with the ability to change your browser setting to prevent adult content from appearing in your search results. No filter is 100 percent accurate, but SafeSearch should help you avoid most of this type of material.
The following is somewhat based on the particular web browser you use. Each browser comes with extensions--often called add-ons or plug-ins--that you can install to customize your view of the internet. We use Google Chrome (a free download) at school, so most of what I suggest is available for Chrome and I've tested it there. These extensions may look a little different, or not be available, in Safari, Firefox, or Internet Explorer, but once you know how to look for them, you might find better things than I suggest!
So...here are a few FREE things you can do that might help. These are my favorites:
- AdBlock Plus - block most ads
- Simple Profanity Filter - replaces profanity with asterisks, you customize the list of blocked words (available in the Chrome WebStore)
- A Cleaner Internet (a MUST if you watch YouTube videos) - visit the site and install the proper plug-in for your browser. A Cleaner Internet takes away the "suggested videos" on the side and the comments down below. YouTube comments are generally some of the more trollish things on the web.
- Ghostery - Ghostery looks for third-party page elements (or "trackers") on the web pages you visit. These can be things like social network widgets, advertisements, invisible pixels used for tracking and analytics, and so on. Ghostery notifies you that these things are present, and which companies operate them. You can learn more about these companies, and if you wish, choose to block the trackers they operate.
Of course, no one solution is perfect, nor can it catch everything. These tools do not replace the need to monitor your child's use of the internet and engage them in conversations about the sites they visit and the things they see. It is extremely important to talk openly and honestly with children about their experience online--share their excitement for a game, watch their favorite silly videos, have them explain a particular site they are visiting--on a regular basis. Don't just save these conversations for times when things go wrong! They will be far more likely to come to you for help and guidance if they know you're in this with them and your family's guidelines have made expectations clear.
If you other/better solutions, please share them in the comments!