- Spend time online together with your child. If you don’t have a computer at home, ask your librarian if the library has computers that you and your child may use. Learn along with your child. If you’re not familiar with computers or with the Internet, ask the librarian if and when someone is available at the library to help you and your child learn together to use them. If your child knows about computers, let her teach you. Ask her to explain what she is doing and why. Ask her to show you her favorite Web sites and to tell you what she likes about them. This will help her build self-confidence and pride in her abilities.
- Help your child to find appropriate web sites. At the same time, make sure that she understands what you think are appropriate Web sites for her to visit. Point her in the direction of sites that can help her with homework or that relate to her interests.
- Consider using filters to block your child from accessing sites that could be inappropriate. These filters include software programs that you can install on your computer. In addition, many Internet service providers offer filters (often for free) that restrict the sites that children can visit. Of course, these filters are not always completely effective-and children can find ways around them. The best safeguard is your supervision and involvement.You can also install a child-friendly browser.
- Monitor the amount of time that your child spends online. Internet surfing can be just as time consuming as watching TV. Don’t let it take over your child’s life. Have her place a clock near the computer and keep track of how much time she is spending online. More important still, keep a keen eye on the clock yourself, and decide together how much time is spent online and for what purpose.
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