7 Things You Should Know About... Kids & the Internet

1. The Internet is Not Evil - Like most tools (and remember it is just a tool) the Internet can be a dangerous place for adults and children. In my opinion, the pros of the Net significantly outweigh the cons. Nothing more to say here, really. Just setting the tone.

2. You can place filtering and usage restrictions on your home computer - Both Apple and Microsoft (Vista Home and Ultimate) offer parental controls built into their operating systems. These controls allow you to control and montior what your children are doing and when they can do it. Your internet provider might have content filtering available so make sure to check your provider's website prior to purchasing a solution.

3. Students should use the Internet (and computer) with a purpose - Idle hands, right? I'm not saying students should only use the Internet for educational purposes but if they have a clear purpose for getting onto the computer (to find the population of Burkina Faso) it will minimize the opportunities for them to make bad choices. (population is 13.9 million, BTW).

4. Your exisiting parenting strategies transfer to the online world - Strategies like talking to your children, setting expectations for use and cestablishing consequences for bad decisions. Don't think of it as the Internet, think of it as a car (where are you going? How long will you be there? Who else will be with you?). Lots of common sense here, which is good.

5. Social networking 101 - Children want to be with their friends, virtual and otherwise. You will see more social networking in the future so learn some strategies for how to deal with them now (and maybe join some of these networks ourselves).

6. Maybe we should worry more about students being saavy consumers - Research shows that parents are talking to their children about how to be safe online. What we need to focus on is how to teach them how to be saavy consumers. We need to focus on teaching them how to find information, validate that information and then put it to good use. We need to work on making them ethical members of the online world.

7. Cyber-Predators - They do exist.