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Know about the Internet

The Internet is an immense resource that can be used for good and bad. It's important to know what you are up against so understanding what the Internet can offer and what your children are likely to use will put you in a better position to advise them. Courses may be available in your area or online which can teach you more about the Internet and help you guide your children's use.

Talk to your children

The most important thing you can do to protect your children online is to talk to them. Let them know about Internet safety. They should know that they can always come to you if they have a concern or question and should not be embarrassed to ask.

Ask them what they do on the Internet and what kind of websites they use.

If your children use chat rooms and instant messaging make sure they know the people they are talking to might not be who they say they are and they should not meet people they have met online without talking to you first or share personal information with them.

Social networking sites and apps (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Line, Tinder, Viber, Hangouts, Telegram) are very popular among teens to keep in touch with friends. These sites may encourage children to give out personal information, but do also have privacy settings to ensure that your profile can only be viewed by people you know, and parents should encourage the use of this.

When educating your children you should not just make them aware of inappropriate material and people on the Internet but also make sure they understand that they should not run applications they do not trust or give out personal information to people they do not know or trust.

Be watchful

You should locate their computers in living room or other communal areas to monitor their Internet activity, this is especially important for younger children, this will also enable you to better educate your children while they use the Internet.

You should also be concious of Internet access on mobile phones as this is a lot harder to monitor and most phones will come with some sort of Internet access.

Parental control software

Parental control software can be used to help protecting your children but should not be used on its own. As children get older, they are quite likely to find ways around parental control software, however for your younger children this can be helpful in preventing them from accidentally stumbling across inappropriate material.

Make sure the search engine your children are using has search filtering enabled:

Google SafeSearch

Microsoft Bing SafeSearch

Yahoo SafeSearch

Some broadband providers offer the option to run content filtering / parental control for your broadband connection and you may want to consider using a solution like this instead of software running on your computer. You should also always run up-to date anti-virus software in the event your child does download a infected file. As this could comprise the security of your data.

Tips from psychologists on protecting your kids online, even if your own online skills lag behind theirs.

* Keep computers in easily viewable places, such as the family room or kitchen.

* Talk regularly with your children about the online activities in which they are involved and Internet etiquette in general. Children should know the rule that many adults have learned from painful experience: Do not say online what you would not say in person.

* Encourage children to be self-protective. Remind them that anything they say on the Internet or in phone text messages can be shared with others and misused. Ask them to consider if they want what they are saying and doing broadly disseminated. If not, they probably should not say or post it.

* Be specific about the risks of cyber-bullying and their need to tell you if something that bothers them occurs.

* Respect for adolescents' privacy is important. But tell children that you may review their online communications if you have reason for concern.

* Set clear expectations for responsible online behavior and phone use and consequences for violating those expectations.

* Consider establishing a parent-child Internet use contract.

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