Thursday, June 21, 2018

Parents, set boundaries for son's Internet use

Q: My 9-year old son is computer savvy and my wife and I haven't had much issue with letting him use it on his own. He likes to play games and read online comics. I've been hearing more about the threats on the Internet, and both my wife and I are becoming more concerned that we might be letting our son put himself in some dangerous situations. What can we do to make sure he stays safe while he's online?

A: You're right to be worried. As hard as it is to imagine life without the Internet, we sometimes forget that it can be an incredibly dangerous place, home to any number of threats, from identity thieves to viruses and pedophiles. You wouldn't let your child go outside alone without a firm understanding of basic safety rules, right? So why would you let him go online without having similar boundaries in place?

Before you can establish any rules for your son, you and your wife should spend some time reading about cyberbullying, predators and everything else that make up the Internet's dark side. Once you've scared yourselves, you may never want to allow your son (or yourself) to go near a computer again. But you'll need to establish firm guidelines.

Start by identifying some safe browsers and search engines. If you need guidance, Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.com) has some great recommendations. Next, talk with your son about responding to online requests for personal information. Make sure he understands that he should never use his real name or give out seemingly harmless information such as his address or phone number. He should also never give his passwords to anyone but you.

You're not going to be able to get away with, "Don't do this" and "Stay away from that." So be sure to explain why you're setting rules and what the consequences are for breaking them.

Talking with your son is only half the battle. You and your wife have some important work to do as well. Begin with moving your son's computer (or yours, if he uses it) to a place in the house where you can supervise. You don't have to stand over his shoulder and track every keystroke (there are programs that do that for you, if you decide to go that route), but your son should not be alone while he's online on the computer, tablet, phone, or any other connected device.

In addition, insist that your son friend you on Facebook and other social media and that he give you his email and online passwords. All of them. He'll complain that you're invading his privacy, but don't cave. It's your responsibility as a parent to know what your son is doing, and sometimes being nosy is just part of that responsibility.

When it comes to the Internet, there's really no such thing as being too cautious. As your son gets older and proves that he's behaving safely, you can relax — but not eliminate — some of the rules. But until then, be informed and pay attention.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Comments
Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Trade him. Waive him. Cut him.Whatever.Just get rid of him.Jameis Winston should never play another game for the Tampa Bay Bucs.Plain and simple, he's a bad guy and the Bucs should have nothing more to do with him.He's already going to miss the first...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Go Skateboarding Day celebrated at Bro Bowl in Tampa

Go Skateboarding Day celebrated at Bro Bowl in Tampa

Skaters sit on the top of a ramp during the Go Skateboarding Day at the Bro Bowl located at Perry Harvey Sr. Park Thursday, June 21, 2018 in Tampa._informq.push(['embed']);Markus Jalaber, 23, of Tampa, grabs $40 after completing a backside flip to fl...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston at least three games without pay for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Winston's suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expected to be...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start the upcoming season likely means that the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for three crucial games.Fitzpatrick stepped in as a starter for three games last year when W...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

TAMPA — The Bucs will open the upcoming season without the face of their franchise, as quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.Winston, 24, was accused of groping a ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others donít

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others donít

TAMPA ó When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nationís housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Sponsored content: Minutes from the beach. Minutes from downtown. The Villas at Date Palm Ė new luxury townhomes.

Plenty of space for living and relaxing. High-end finishes and impact-resistant doors and windows. A sparkling pool and lush, tropical landscaping you donít have to maintain yourself (even an elevator if you prefer) ó in a secluded area of St. Pete, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Medal of Honor recipient tells teachers to push kids up, not out

Medal of Honor recipient tells teachers to push kids up, not out

Gary Littrell spent the first 17 years of his life in "survival mode." Then he joined the U.S. Army and was shipped off to Vietnam.Littrell was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor in 1973, for actions he took that saved lives.The award honored his...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Putnam, DeSantis will accept publicly financed matching for campaign contributions

Putnam, DeSantis will accept publicly financed matching for campaign contributions

The two Republican candidates running for governor in Florida have decided to accept public matching of campaign contributions, a program long criticized by conservatives as a taxpayer-funded freebie for politicians.Agriculture Commissioner Adam...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

ST. PETERSBURG ó Three lieutenants responsible for supervising the police officers who patrol the city were found to have been faking their work hours instead of showing up for duty on time.In some cases, the watch commanders submitted time sheets st...
Updated: 1 hour ago