Warmer weather jolts many of us into action. Whether it is spring cleaning or just tidying up in the garden, it makes us feel good knowing we are giving everything a fresh look.

Stepping into action on the internet is no different too! Are you a parent who is actively involved in your child’s internet activities? Are you aware of the places they like to go on the internet? Do you know their favourite sites? Would you know who they are chatting to? How would you know if they were chatting to someone you did not know or approve of?

As the year end is almost upon us, now is a perfect time to show interest in your child on the internet. We’ve put together our top 6 tips to help you and your child play a positive part while having fun too!

1. Know where they go. Ask them to show you where they like going on the internet and get them to show you their favourite sites. It will give you an insight into their personal choices and judgement.

2. Know excellent sites. See our previous article containing some excellent sites to keep your children busy while having fun and learning in a positive way at the same time.

3. Use Strong Passwords. Too many of us place little importance on password strength. Research has shown that passwords such as ‘password’ and ‘12345678’ are still popular. Weak passwords are easily guessed, so encourage your children to write one down that has letters, numbers and a special character. Use it, and keep a record of it in a safe place.

4. Review privacy settings. Now is an excellent time to review privacy settings. Social networking sites like Facebook have various settings that will restrict the amount of information others will see. Get your child to show you theirs, and ask them to teach you how they work. That way you are empowering your child by them showing you.

5. Do a ‘friend’ tidy-up. Suggest to your child that it is a good time to review ‘friends’ attached to their profile who they may not actually know. It is common for children to accept friend requests to their social networking profile that they may not know. It is an easy task to remove those people from their profile.

6. Install monitoring / filtering software. Responsible parents use filtering software to block objectionable material from young ones accidentally stumbling across it. As a child develops internet responsibility, controls can be relaxed, and then the monitoring functionality helps parents know whether what is being taught is being acted upon from a usage perspective. It also helps parents identify who their children are talking to, and address any issues that may crop up.

Taking an active role in your child’s internet activities will show them you care. Keeping the dialogue open will help build trust as well as assisting to build healthy positive digital citizens.

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Dean Stewart is the owner of WebSafety NZ and has over 27 years of experience in the IT industry. His career has taken him to Australia, UK and South Africa, before returning home after a 14 year overseas stint. Outside of work, Dean has two teenage children, is a keen tramper in the outdoors and enjoys growing his own produce.

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