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Safe Surfing on the Internet

by Jessica Ikner

As parents we want to make sure our children are safe online. Living in the age of technology, how much do we as parents really know about our child’s internet usage?

Parents should:

  1. Monitor children’s electronic devices. Have you looked at their search history? Do you know what websites they are frequently visiting? Do you know their email address and password? As the parent it’s important to know all of this information.
  2. Monitor apps on their tablets or smartphones. Are your children sending pictures that are inappropriate? Do they know what the State of Florida believes are inappropriate photos? According to Florida Statutes 847.01 the electronic distribution of nudity is the showing of human male or female genitals, pubic hair, buttocks or female breasts. If your child sends, receives or forwards these types of pictures, it’s a violation of law.
  3. Are they communicating with people you don’t know? Is your child communicating with children that they know in real life or are they just “internet friends?”
  4. Make a rule that anytime your child wants to use their electronic devices they must be in a central location and not secluded by themselves. This way, they are less likely to be secretive about their online behaviors.
  5. Educate your children that not everyone they meet online will tell the truth about who they are. They should never give out personal information such as their full name, school, phone number or address. Let them know that they should never meet a stranger from the internet.

As parents we need to ensure that our children know they can come to us in any situation. Here are some ways to help strengthen your parent-child relationship:

  1. Build a trusting relationship with your child. Let them know that if they do make a mistake they can still come to you about anything.
  2. Talk to your child about their day. Ask open-ended questions instead of one-word answers. For example, don’t ask, “How was your day?” Ask, “What was the best part of your day and why?”
  3. Have conversations with your child about your past experiences. When children struggle with issues, they may not realize that you might have had a similar situation as a child.
  4. Make time for family meals or family activities. Strong relationships flourish from family time.

The internet can be a wonderful and scary place. Being a proactive parent when it comes to social media is imperative. No one will monitor your child’s online safety but you. Stay proactive, implement rules and keep the conversations flowing between you and your child. #staysafe

Jessica Ikner is a deputy with the Leon County Sheriff ’s Office.

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