Internet Safety Information for Parents

Posted by Kathy Lappin on 8/24/2016

We all are living in the digital age, where our children know how to swipe before they can even walk or talk. As the technology teacher at Columbus Manor school, I feel particularly compelled to share some of the most essential internet safety tips with our CM families. 

There is much to know, but I feel that internet safety really begins with parents knowing about any application (app) or website their children frequent. I will give you a brief overview of the safety settings you can set in some of the most popular places online. 

Google

Google Search is not built for kids researching online. It is for everyone, looking for everything. The information and images that come up during a typical Google search can be highly inappropriate for children. If you follow the steps below, you can set up SafeSearch and block Instant Prediction filters for Google. 

1. Go to http://www.google.com/preferences

2. Under "SafeSearch filters" click "filter explicit results." If you want to lock these settings, click on "Lock SafeSearch" (FYI you must have a Gmail account to lock SafeSearch. It's worth signing up for a free account even if you never use it.)

3. Under "Google instant predictions" click the "never show instant results" radio button. Instant predictions pre-populate the search box with other popular searches that many times are inappropriate for children.

4. Be sure to hit "Save" after you make your changes.

 

Netflix

Netflix parental control settings allow you to block mature titles from being shown onscreen or added to you instant queue. The changes you make are reflected on any Netflix enabled device. 

1. Login to your Netflix account

2. Click on "Your Account"

3. In the "Preferences" section, click on "Parental control setting"

4. Select viewable movies by rating (All Movies, R and Below, PG-13/TV-14 and below, Unrated Family and below, PG and below, G and below)

 

YouTube

YouTube's "Safety Mode" disables videos with age restrictions and/or mature content from showing up in a video search. The filter isn't perfect. It is still a good idea to have you child in a communal or supervised area of your home when watching YouTube videos.

1. To turn on Safety Mode, go to YouTube

2. Look at the bottom of the page and click "Safety: Off" to open the preference setting

3. Select the "On" option and click "Save"

 

Minecraft

Minecraft is a fun and popular game with both children and adults.

1. Minecraft for mobile devices is a single player only game.

2. If you are on a computer, search for "profanity free minecraft servers" if your child wants to play on a public, multi-player server.

3. Minecraft YouTube videos sometimes contain profanity in the commentary and idea on how to bully other players. Previewing any videos is good practice.

4. Minecraft can be an addictive game. Be sure to establish playing time limitations.

 

Instagram and Twitter are not encouraged for children under the age of 13. Despite what many think, this isn't to limit kids' exposure to inappropriate content, but because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act,  which prevents companies from collecting certain information from kids under 13. Rather than create an environment that protects kids from data tracking, Instagram and other websites and apps choose to restrict access to those under 13. All of our students at Columbus Manor are under 13, but some of our students already have accounts and I know that there are older siblings that this information might be useful to, so the following are some things to keep in mind. 

Instagram

If you haven't manually set your Instagram account to "Private" all of your photographs are publicly available for anyone to view. When you or your child are posting location specific or tagged photos of activities it is much safer to protect your family's privacy.

1. Open the Instagram mobile app and tap the Profile icon on the bottom navigation bar

2. Click on "Edit your Profile"

3. Scroll down to the "Photos are Private" on/off button and flip it "On"

4. Click "Yes I am Sure" and then "Save"

 

Twitter

If your child wants to set up a twitter account and you are comfortable with that, it is best to set it up together.  

  • Remember that anything online is there forever. Anything negative associated with your name could keep you from getting into college or even from getting a job in the future. Help your child pick a username you’ll always be comfortable with.

  • Your child shouldn't tweet anything she wouldn’t say in person or to someone's face. 

  • Make sure you are okay any photographs your child wants to send or upload. 

  • Your child should only follow people he/she knows in real life.

  • It's important for your child to keep users from seeing his/her tweets unless they've been given specific permission. To do this, click on “Settings” from your account, click on “Account” and check the box saying “Protect my tweets.”

  • Your child should avoid tweeting his/her name, address or phone number. 

  • Only you and your child should know his/her password.

  • Make sure your child knows not to click on any link promising a quick way to get rich, a free prize or anything else that looks too good to be true. 

  • Please remember if you are not comfortable with your child having a twitter account, you can say no. Social media is a big deal and children are not always ready for the responsiblity. 

 There is much to know about internet safety. The website: www.netsmartz.org provides even more information to parents looking to diligently keep their children safer online. 

 

 

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