|Safety Tip #1: Eat dinner together as a famiily|
Sometimes it's the little things we do that make the biggest difference.
by Larry Magid
During the question and answer period of one of my Internet safety speeches, someone asked if I could tell her the most important thing parents can do to protect their kids online.
I thought about it for a moment and quickly rejected the obvious answers such as keep your computer in a central place in the home, monitor what the kids are doing and make sure your kids understand basic safety rules. Those are all useful tips but what the number one safety tip is this: Eat dinner together as a family.
I realize that advice is very low tech but it really does help protect kids on the Internet and in every other aspect of their lives. Safety isn't about following rigid rules, it's about applying critical thinking and good sense to situations that you find yourself in. And it's also about an open dialog between family members. The only way you can help really protect your kids online is to understand what they are doing and what challenges they face -- and have a good enough relationship with them that they will come to you if there is a problem.
So, whether you're a big family or a little family, a family of one parent and one kid or two or more of each -- eat dinner together, have conversations and be open to your kids' comments and ideas. It will pay dividends for years to come