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Digital parenting: How to keep kids safe online

Naomi de la Torre is freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom with two delightful boys, ages three and six. Naomi has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, is a self-proclaimed salsa diva, and can make a killer octopus ...

Internet safety for kids

Our children may be digital natives, but the digital world is not always a safe place to be. With 62 percent of kids reporting that they’ve had a negative experience online, the message is clear. Parents need to be more involved in setting online safety rules and monitoring their kids’ use of the internet. Learn helpful tips on how to talk to your children about internet safety and keep your kids safe online.

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It's a wild, wild web out there

The world our children are growing up in looks very different from the world in which we were raised. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, changing the world before our very eyes. As digital natives, children spend an average of 40 hours a month online, with many children spending much more than this on the internet. Most parents recognize the need for digital parenting, but still don't feel they can completely protect their children online.

How much is too much? Setting online limits for kids >>

What are your children doing online?

Do you know what your kids are really doing online? The latest edition of the Norton Online Family Report sheds new light on the risks and realities of growing up in the digital age. There is a big difference between what kids say they are doing online and what their parents think they are doing.

"Kids are developing their online identity at an earlier age than ever before," said Vanessa Van Petten, author of Radical Parenting, "and they need parents, teachers and other role models to help them figure out where to go, what to say, how to act and most importantly, how not to act. Negative situations online can have repercussions in the real world -- from bullying to money lost in scams to giving strangers personal information."

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Talk to your children about internet safety

While 77 percent of parents have house rules for their kids' use of the internet, most parents remain unsure of what their children are doing during all those hours of screen time. 33 percent of parents have secretly checked their kids' online activities and 25 percent have checked their kids' social networks without their knowledge. "Having an open dialogue with kids in a safe environment like at home or school can be much more effective, along with arming children with the tools they need to stay safe," explained Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate.

Read more on how to set house rules for online safety >>

Set parental controls

Rather than falling into the trap of parental blind spots, setting up parental controls is an effective way to keep tabs on what your children are doing online. Norton Online Family offers a free product developed specifically to help parents monitor their children's online activities. The good news is that kids who are best protected from negative online experiences live in families with household rules and are trying not to break them.

With an open line of communication, parental controls can become an added layer of security -- helping parents to set time limits, blocking inappropriate sites and providing a detailed reporting on what children are doing on the web. Get involved and help your children stay safe online.

More tips on internet safety for kids

Top 10 online safety tips for kids
How to help your kids break the screen habit
Kids on the internet: Safety tips for parents

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