By Kristin Stanberry
In a previous article we described the risks and benefits of kids networking online — and specifically how this applies to children with learning disabilities (LD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). In this article we will explain in greater detail how to safeguard your child's online experience by teaching him how to protect his personal information and identity from being exposed or exploited by others who find him via the Internet. You'll also learn about various technology tools that block, filter, and monitor your child's online activity — and guidelines for choosing those tools that best address your concerns.
Whatever approach you take, do your best to tailor it to the specific needs of your child and family. If your child has learning or attention issues, be mindful of any special supervision he may need, as outlined in our previous article.
Perhaps you can relate to the questions one mother posed: "How do we raise children to live in a world with social networking safely? When are they old enough to drive around in that world on their own? What tools do they need to cope with that world? How can we help them to be successful and safe in that world?"
The answers to these questions aren't simple. The best place to start, though, is to understand your role as a parent. Be confident in your ability to learn enough about technology and the Internet to prepare your child to navigate the online world safely and successfully. After all, you know your child better than anyone else and have been teaching him how to navigate life from the time he was born. This article will help you approach Internet education step-by-step.
Just as you have taught your child how to act in public — even when you're not with him — you'll want to teach him how to interact on the Internet. How he communicates, and how well he evaluates the trustworthiness and authenticity of other people, are key factors.
Here are some tips for teaching your child to interact safely online:
For additional tips, see the resources listed with this article.
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