Raising Kids

Is the Internet Safe for Your Kids to Surf?

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Is the Internet safe for your kids to surf? Here are some things to consider:

What It Is:
Search engines are like the entry door to anything on the internet, good or bad. Most recognizable are Google, Bing, Yahoo and a bunch of others smaller ones. Are they safe for your kids to surf?

Who is on it?
Everyone who needs to find something fast on the net probably uses a search engine. In fact, you likely found this page (or the site it’s on) through a search engine.

346x396-CircleWould My Child Want It?:
It’s basically the best way for a teen to find something fast. Most search engines are now built into browsers so searching for something online is pretty easy to do.

Where Can It Be Used?:
You can search for news, information about a product, doing research and a bunch of other stuff too – like look up ANYTHING – even things you wouldn’t want your child discovering or researching.

What Should I Watch Out For?:
There’s a lot to look out for. First off since you can search for anything, the biggest thing to watch out for are teens looking up porn. It’s everywhere and super-easy. Also any kid who’s a whiz on the computer can delete the browsing history or simply you use a private browser (a browser that doesn’t record your history so you can’t go back and see what was viewed). This is very dangerous territory, because it makes it so easy for your child (or spouse, for that matter!) to hide something from you. If you go on the computer and see the history wiped clean, you need to have a conversation.

What Are The Positives?:
The internet is great if used for the right things and for the right reasons. It’s a part of everyday life now, but just be careful if you let your kids freely surf the net. Also there are some search engines with build in “Safe-Search” mode which filters out most of the illicit content. But don’t think it can get everything, because while it may filter out explicit sexuality, it can sometimes allow illicit content like sexually suggestive material, hate speech, violence, or any other manner of content you might prefer your child not access. Plus safe-search modes can generally be turned off pretty quickly. Buying a filter that blocks certain genres of websites could be a wise move!

What Are The Negatives?:
There are lots of negatives if you let your kids just search for anything. Here are a few… porn, adult related websites, chatroom, inappropriate images, possible bullying situations.

What We Think:
Overall we think letting your kids roam the net is like throwing your 6 year old into predatory ocean waters without a shark cage to protect them. Be wise, get a filter, put the family computer in a central location and check in on the history to keep tabs. Remember: even the best kids like to be curious and being curious on the net can lead you into dark places.

This article was originally published here and is used with permission.

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