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    Are your kids ready for cyberspace?
    Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP posted:
    Smart phones, iPads, and laptops! Oh my! We are living in a digital world (cue Madonna's "Material Girl") and our children are digital kids. So instead of avoiding the topic, or forbidding your child from using the computer, teach them how to surf the web safely. While the Internet can be a fun and educational tool for kids, don't forget that there are also potential safety risks (such as cyber bullies, predators, and thieves) that you need to take seriously.
    Dr.Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, author of CyberSafe, says, "It isn't appropriate to "ban" kids from using the internet until school age or older and then think they'll "get it". By then, they will have already snuck online but without guidance. We live in a digital world so our job is to help them gain the digital skills needed to operate in that world. It's the same way we teach them to be safe in the kitchen or learn to walk around on their toddler feet safety. We have to take that same common sense parenting approach to everything digital."

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed a list of links and resources to help parents keep children and adolescents safer when browsing online ( ). I recommend that all parents review it ASAP. In addition, here are a few of my own tips to keep your family safe on the Internet:

  • Keep the computer in a central area in your home.
  • Learn about the Internet.
  • Spend time browsing the web with your child.
  • Bookmark age-appropriate and educational sites for your child.
  • Set screen time limits for leisure usage, such as 1 hour per school day and 2 hours a day on weekends.
  • Teach your children not to give out or display any personal information online, including their real names, phone numbers, addresses, the name of their schools, or any personal photos.
  • Let children know they can and should always let you know if they come across anything disturbing or upsetting online.

  • So what are your experiences and thoughts on letting children browse the Internet? How do you keep your family safe from online dangers?
    bean1111 responded:
    Hi There,

    I recently caught my son and his friend watching inappropriate things on youtube, such as girls kissing, naked bodies, etc. I have grounded him and taken away his priveleges but I am not sure how to talk to him about what he saw. I know kids are curious, but I want to make sure this doesn't go any farther.
    Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP replied to bean1111's response:
    You are right that kids are naturally curious, but sometimes their curiosity can lead them to inappropriate material, especially on-line where other potential dangers such as on-line predators lurk. If you haven't already, move the computer to a central area in the house so you can keep an eye on it (and him). Make sure you have clear rules about what sites are appropriate and what are not. In addition, remember to place a time limit on screen use (1-2 hours a day). Remind him never to give you his full name, phone number, address or photos on the Internet.

    Regarding the content itself, discuss the topic, what it is and why you don't want him looking at it, or why it isn't allowed in your house. Perhaps he has questions about sex, his body or his sexuality. Let him know he can come to you with such questions. Be open and honest about your personal values and beliefs.

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