Q & A With John Walsh: Internet Safety and Your Kids
John Walsh has brought the 25th season of America's Most Wanted to Lifetime! You asked, and he answered. Below are tips and thoughts from the host himself. Don't miss the show, Fridays at 9pm/8c.
The internet and social networking sites have become an integral part of all of our lives, and that includes our children. Safety is top of mind for many parents when it comes to their kids and the internet. Especially with heartbreaking stories of teens mysteriously going missing in the headlines on a regular basis.
What’s the minimum age for a child to start using social media (such as facebook)?
John Walsh: When it comes to what age a child should be in order to start using social media, there is no one definitive answer; but any decision should be based on a couple of factors: 1) the maturity of the child and 2) the parents’ comfort level of the child using social media. I think this stresses the importance of communication – talk to your kids. Having a family discussion on this topic can reveal if your child is ready to use social media. Also, parents should be aware that certain social media sites such as Facebook have a minimum age (13 years old) users need to be in order to have an account. Doing a little research into what social media your kids will be using, and keeping the lines of communication open with them will go a long way in keeping them safe online.
How can parents keep on top of what their kids are doing online?
John Walsh: One of my most recommended tactics to parents is to keep the computer or laptop their kids use to access the Internet in a public space in the house. Rather than giving your kids a laptop that they’ll use in the secrecy of their bedroom, place it in an office room you use with them or a side table in the living room. Furthermore, if you password-protect the computer, your kids would need to ask a parent to log them in. Parents can take further precaution by blocking access to certain websites. Parents can also keep track of what their kids are doing online by maintaining a presence online. If your kids do Facebook or Twitter, get a Facebook or Twitter account too to see what they’re doing.
Check out more safe web surfing tips here...