My 10 year old wants his own computer for his birthday. While he and his younger brother share a Google Chromebook he feels that he needs his own because a good portion of his homework is online. It is a great argument but I worry about safety and about him being exposed to too much, too soon.
But he already has a computer…
I guess him sharing one with his brother makes me feel a little safer. We have clear rules that the computer should only be used with our permission and in a centralized location. But, it is a shared computer. His brother’s tiny eyes are always watching—you know, back up for me and my husband if my 10 year old travels to the wrong place on the internet.
A part of me also wonders if it is too soon for him to have another device that belongs to him alone. He’s in the gadget wielding generation, perfectly comfortable with smart phones, tablets, gaming systems, etc. As a mom, I worry about him being safe.
10 Ways to Protect Your Children from Online Dangers
- Know which devices have internet access. We all know about the computer, iPad and smartphones, but how about the TV? Some of the newer electronic games have internet access also!
- Make sure that all computers are located and used in a centralized location, no corners or bedrooms.
- Establish time limits for how long he/she is allowed online per day.
- Make joint surfing times. Go online together and practice internet safety.
- Talk to your kids. Explain that it’s like driving. You might be a careful driver, but it’s the other guy you need to watch out for.
- Install internet protection and/or supervision for younger kids.
- Do a little background work before letting your kids go to a friend’s house. Is there parental supervision when they go online? No need to be obsessive, just do a little legwork.
- Keep an eye out for recently deleted history or weird pop ups.
- Make sure your kids understand that people might not be who they say they are, and they are not to share information, or even chat, with strangers.
- Educate your kids about hyperlinks and the dangers they pose. Disable them if possible.
A Brief Note About Aaron Ross
Like my son, Aaron has always been into computers. By the time he was 10, he was programming in DOS and repairing other people’s computers. Naturally, he followed the path of working in software engineering even taking the time to speak at schools about the dangers of the internet. In April of 2011, his home was destroyed in a fire. Grateful his family was ok, he went to a neighbors the next day to retrieve files from the cloud storage system he had joined the year before. To his disappointment only 11 files and fourteen pictures were there. The cloud storage system would only “back up” small files. These events moved Aaron to start Ross Backup.
While I’m not sure if we will get my son his very own computer, I do know that I will continue to be vigilant in ensuring that he is safe online. These 10 tips reinforced what we already practice at home and it gave us few more ideas to implement. How do you keep your children safe online?