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Internet Safety


Internet Safety

Kristen Abbondante, Ph.D., Psychologist

More and more parents are coming to me about internet safety because there are such concerns out there.

I talk about the big three which are pedophiles, cyber-bullying, and sexting.

Although these things are concerning they are definitely not the norm.

Kids are getting online more and more and kids are always before the curve when it comes to internet safety.

I think it's really important that parents do get educated so we can prevent those major concerns from happening.

At What Age Should Parents Allow Their Child To Be Online?

I always go to the earlier the better.

I think that, I'll give you an example from my own personal life. I have a 5 year old niece who already has a tablet.

Currently she's not online but she's absolutely using games but those games are being monitored.

I think once they have an electronic device, they can absolutely start using online services.

I think at a very early age it needs to be monitored consistently all the time and those electronics should be in an open area, like the living room or when you're in the kitchen.

What Are Some Ways Parents Can Protect Their Child Online?

The first thing you need to do is educate yourself.

There are a lot of great resources online to get you to learn about the different sites, learn about the privacy settings, learn about what's age-appropriate and what are some sites that you should prevent them from using.

I think another great thing is to just look at the software that is out there. There are a lot of great resources by your phone carrier, by the electronics provider, and just things you can find on the internet.

I think the most important thing is to just talk to your child. I think, often times, parents make mistakes about telling their child all of their concerns when I think it's way more important for your child to be telling you what they're concerned about,  what they know about internet safety, so that you feel more confident when they're online.

Are There Any Rules Parents Should Use When Their Child is Online?

One great one is just setting a time limit. Usually, when they're younger, I think they should be doing more activities and less social media and internet time. As they get older that ratio might meet.

For your teenagers, they might be spending just as much time online as they're spending on other activities.

I think it's great to also have a no electronic zone. Dinner time, any kind of family time, no one has their electronics at the table, and I think it's great for parents to also implement that rule as well.

One thing I like to tell parents is after a certain time, maybe 8 o'clock, for teenagers it might be 10 or 11, but the electronics go away. They don't need to take those electronics to sleep.​​

Keeping your child safe on the internet is a common concern for parents. Kristen Abbondante, Ph.D., Staff Psychologist at Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health, offers tips and strategies for parents on internet safety.