Monday, March 16, 2009

10 Steps to Online Parental Supervision of Your Kids

Here's an article I've been working on for parents at the school where I teach tech - basically targeted at parents of 4th thru 8th graders. I hear the kids talking about stuff they are doing online that I'm not sure their parents are aware of. Who can really keep up with it all? It's a challenge, but I also think it's the responsibility of the parents to figure it out if their kids are online at home.

What's your online supervision experience with your kids? What kind of help, advice or assistance do you need?

10 Steps to Online Parental Supervision of Your Kids

1. Create an Online Safety Contract, review and sign it with your kids and post near all computers in your home. You can find a good example at

2. Keep computers and other wired technology in public spaces in your house where you can easily check in on what your children are doing online.

3. Create a list of "approved" websites for your kids to use. For instance, the Upper Elementary students have a list of websites they may use at Here are some examples of free resources that you can use to create your approved website list: or

4. Consider using a filter with some sort of parental control, but do not consider filtering software a replacement for your hands-on monitoring. At the very least, ensure that Google's SafeSearch is set to "Use strict filtering". To set this, select Preference from the Google home page.

5. Peruse the history on the computers used by your child. See if there are any patterns or websites that are new that are being visited a lot. Talk to your child about it.

6. Are your kids using a social networking site, like Facebook? Are they playing a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), like Runescape? Are they posting videos on YouTube? Did you know that all these sites have a under 13 years old age restriction?

Here is the Facebook policy in a nutshell:
"Children under 13 years old are not permitted access to Facebook. In addition, parents of children 13 years and older should consider whether their child should be supervised during the child's use of the Facebook site."

If your child wants access to this kind of site, first take the time to thoroughly review the site yourself. If you approve, then you should consider having full access to their accounts. This is not an invasion of privacy issue, this is a safety issue.

7. If your child sets up a web page or blog online, subscribe to the page over RSS or bookmark it and visit it daily.

8. Carefully consider the ramifications of allowing your child to have an e-mail account. There is no good way to avoid all the inappropriate spam that's bound to come in. There is a way with a gmail account to use the plus-addressing feature to create filtered inboxes. If you approve of your child having an e-mail account, then you should set up the e-mail account together and let your child know that you will occasionally be monitoring their e-mail activity. This is really no different that an administrator at a company or school having access to e-mail account info of their employees for security purposes.

9. Google your child. Nothing will probably turn up, but you never know. Just in case, every once in a while, you should Google your child's name, nickname, city (put your child's name in quotations and then type + the town, eg. "John Doe" +Anytown)

10. If your child is living online it is your job to supervise online! They should know that you are watching, vigilant, and involved and that you care.

(adapted from Cool Cat Teacher blog)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Kim-
I came across your blog and want to thank you for posting these tips for keeping children safe on the internet. As a member of the Windows Outreach Team, I see many parents blogging about online safety and agree that it is very important to make sure precautions are taken when allowing children to access computers. For users out there running Windows as their computer’s operating system, Microsoft has developed Family Safety. It makes it easy for parents to monitor their child(ren)’s online activity. More information can be found here:
Windows Outreach Team