Keeping Your Preteen Safe While Online

The internet can be a wonderful resource to our preteens. They can do research. They can play games. They can even enjoy conversations with their school friends. Unfortunately, there are many inappropriate and even dangerous things for our preteens to come across while online. Our preteens could easily view pornography, hate websites and could possibly encounter a child stalker. Since the internet provides a feeling of anonymity, many people feel safe when it comes to their children being online. This isn’t always true though.

I feel that children these days have way too much freedom when it comes to the internet. Too many kids have free reign of the internet. Many even have computers right in their very own bedrooms. The number one way to keep your preteen safe while online is to keep the computer OUT of their bedrooms. A good place to have the computer is in the main family room. If the computer is in the family room, then it is much easier for parents to keep an eye on what sites and programs their child is visiting or using.

Another way to protect our preteens as to always be around while the kids are online. This is, of course, easier to do if the computer is in plain view in the family room. If you are close at hand, you will be better able to stop any inappropriate website surfing much quicker. Right at this moment, my preteen is online and I am only 2 feet away from her writing this article to share with you. Preteens still need a large amount of parental supervision so stick close by while they are online.

Always pre-approve the websites that your preteen wants to visit. Always check that your child’s favorite sites are age appropriate. Check to see what kinds of information the site offers. If the site has a message board, or forum, check to see what kind of rules are being enforced to protect your child’s privacy. I also like to place icons for the pre-approved websites right on the computer’s desktop. This way my preteen can easily find and access her favorite, pre-approved, sites.

Next make sure that you talk to your child about what kinds of private information he or she should NEVER give out online. They should never give out their address, complete name or phone number. Also let your preteen know that if anyone asks them for this information, they should immediately exit the conversation.

Talk to your preteen about inappropriate topics that should not be discussed online. Let your child know what topics you think are inappropriate and why. For example, any online conversation about sex is an enormous no-no in my home. My preteen must exit the conversation immediately if this topic arises while she is online.

There are also many programs you could purchase that would allow you to know what sites your child is visiting while online. There are several different kinds of these programs so make sure that you find the right one to suit your specific needs. These programs can monitor internet activity, block specific sites and images, limit the amount of time your child can be online and even control what programs your child has permission to download from the internet.

Another way to make sure that your preteen is safe while online is to make sure you know who they are talking to. There are many dangerous people out there that we don’t want our children getting to know. Make sure that they are only talking to their real life friends. The friends that YOU know. A preteen is still too young to talk to strangers in their everyday lives. So why should they be allowed to talk to strangers online?

In the end, the best thing that a parent can do to keep their children safe online, is to just be there. Always supervise your preteen’s online activities. Kids are growing up so fast these days. We, as parents, have to do everything possible to keep them safe for as long as we are able to.

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