Awareness: First Step in Being a Good Cyber Parent
Parents have a right to be concerned about online cyber safety for their kids. But, there is no need to be afraid if you are prepared. Being a good "cyber parent" means understanding how to use the Internet to monitor your children online and help them proactively build a strong online reputation.
Adopt Clear Internet Usage Rules
If your children don't have clear rules for what they can and can't do online, they are bound to make a few mistakes. That's why it's important to establish a clear list of rules for using the Web, and social networking websites in particular. In addition to setting out specific rules, you should also make sure to have an earnest discussion with your children about their online reputation.
Monitor Your Child's Name Online
You should know what your child is doing on the Net. It's the most effective way to keep them safe from sharing inappropriate content online or becoming a victim of cyberbullying. Regularly monitor your child's online behavior, including their social networking profiles, to make sure they aren't giving out personally identifiable information and that they are not doing or saying anything that could hurt their reputation down the road. With college admissions officers and job recruiters increasingly looking at online search results to make determinations about candidates. It is important that you don't allow a mistake your child makes as a teenager to affect the rest of their life.
Be a Part of Your Kid's Social Network: Cloaked or Not
If you don't know how Facebook works, it's hard to help your child keep their Facebook profile private. When your child joins a social networking website, you should sign up for it as well to get a feel for how the website works and how its various privacy controls are situated. Additionally, you should make sure your child "friends" you online and that you have complete access to see what is on his or her profile.
If possible, monitor their friend's social networking profiles as well. If your son or daughter is misbehaving online, they may not be doing it only on their profile. Anything you share on the Web, no matter if it's on your page or someone else's should be treated as if it will be there forever. Keeping your eyes and ears open to the content in your child's social network is an important way of making sure that they don't hurt their reputations.
Be an Online Role Model
Parent should be role models to their kids both online and in the real world. If you're posting party photos or blogging about how much you hate your job, you're not setting a very good example for your son or daughter. If your child does a Google search your name, what will they find? Hopefully, they will see a clean, professional, and content-rich list of results about their wonderful mom or dad. If you don't have a good-looking "Google resume," work on gaining control of your search results while you're helping your child with their online reputation.