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Internet Safety for Kids Series

Internet Safety: What to Do When Your Child Will Not Follow Your Rules

Are you the parent of a child or a teenager who uses the internet? If you are, you likely have internet safety rules already in place. If you do, how well is your child at following them?

When it comes to internet safety rules that you have set in place, it is important that your child follows them. Why? Because their health and safety is, literally, at risk. Not following your internet safety rules should be treated differently than a child who doesn’t clean their room. The situation is much more serious. If your child doesn’t follow the rules that you have set concerning internet use, they may unintentionally find themselves a target of a child predator.

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What you will want to do is re-talk to your child. Be sure that they are clear on your rules. For example, if your child is allowed to use social networking websites, what are they not allowed to have posted on their profile? Do you not want them to have personal information or personal pictures or videos shown? Restate all rules that you have for your child and instruct them to start following them right away.

If your child still isn’t following your internet safety rules all of the way, you will want to give them one final warning. Let them know that there are serious consequences to their actions. However, there is one important exception to this step. If you suspect that your child is communicating with strangers online, like those who may be sexual predators, bypass the final warnings, as your child may already be in over their head.

As for what steps you should take next, you can ban your child from using the internet. This is the strictest form of punishment and likely the one that will send the clearest message. If your child must use the internet for school, like for a school research project, only let them do so when you are sitting right next to them. You can also make them do their research at their local library. This is a great way to make your child understand the importance and consequences of not following rules.

Another approach that you can take is to block the websites that you want to keep your child away from. For example, if you asked your child or teenager not to post personal pictures or videos of themselves online, but they still continue to do so, block the social networking websites that they use. If you have Internet Explorer, this is easy to do. First, open a new internet window. Then, from the dropdown menu select “Tools,” and then “Internet Options,” and then click on the “Content Tab.” Finally, under the heading of “Approved Sites,” you can also enter in the websites you want blocked.

You may also want to let your child use the computer when you are home or in the room. If they have their own computer, make them relocate it into a well traveled area, such as your living room. Speaking of which, if your child uses a family computer, you should always make sure that it is in an area where you can easily see what your child is doing online. This is a nice approach, as your child is still able to use the internet, but you are able to keep a close eye on them, making sure that they are following your rules.

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