The Internet/World Wide WEB — a network of computers that connects people and information all around the world — has become an important part of how we learn and of how we interact with others. For children to succeed today, they must be able to use the Internet. Here are some suggestions for helping your child learn to do so properly and effectively.
For information about children and television/video game use, read Parent Tips: How to Monitor TV Viewing and Video Game Playing.
Children and Internet Use
- Spend time online with your child. If you don't have a computer at home, ask your librarian if the library has computers that you and your child may use. Learn along with your child. If you're not familiar with computers or with the Internet, ask the librarian if and when someone is available at the library to help you and your child learn together to use them. If your child knows about computers, let her teach you. Ask her to explain what she is doing and why. Ask her to show you her favorite Web sites and to tell you what she likes about them. This will help her build self-confidence and pride in her abilities.
- Help your child to locate appropriate Internet Web sites. At the same time, make sure that she understands what you think are appropriate Web sites for her to visit. Point her in the direction of sites that can help her with homework or that relate to her interests.
- Pay attention to any games she might download or copy from the Internet. Some games are violent or contain sexual or other content that is inappropriate for children. Resources such as Common Sense Media (also available in Spanish) can help you to make good Web site choices and give you more information about Internet use.
- You might consider using "filters" to block your child from accessing sites that may be inappropriate. These filters include software programs that you can install on your computer. In addition, many Internet service providers offer filters (often for free) that restrict the sites that children can visit. Of course, these filters are not always completely effective-and children can find ways around them. The best safeguard is your supervision and involvement.
- Monitor the amount of time that your child spends online. Internet surfing can be just as time consuming as watching TV. Don't let it take over your child's life. Have her place a clock near the computer and keep track of how much time she is spending online. Remember, many commercial online services charge for the amount of time the service is used. These charges can mount up quickly!
- Teach your child rules for using the Internet safely. Let her know that she should never do the following:
— tell anyone — including her friends — her computer password
— use bad language or send cruel, threatening or untrue e-mail messages
— give out any personal information, including her name or the names of family members, home address, phone number, age, or school name
— arrange to meet a stranger that she has "talked" with in an online "chat room."