Safety Online in the Early Years


This blog post is a follow up to an information sharing session we had with parents where we discussed helping our students / children find a balance between their on / and / off line lives. 

One question that came out of this session was, “How can we help our young children stay safe while allowing them time to explore the internet?” 

Here are some of the things we are thinking about in response to this question. Below you will find:

1. What the Common Sense Media website suggests as Internet Safety Basics and Strategies for being Responsible and Safe Online.
2. Some search engines you might want to try with your younger children that filter out some of the bad stuff online

1. Common Sense Media
Internet safety skills are as vital as the ABCs. Foster safe, responsible online behavior and avoid online threats like cyberbullying, unwelcome contact, and digital drama.”

Common Sense Media suggest these Internet Safety Basics:

Help your kids understand that they should:
  • Never share their names, schools, ages, phone numbers, or addresses;
  • Never send pictures to strangers;
  • Keep passwords private (except to parents);
  • Never open email from strangers – it may contain viruses that can harm a computer; and
  • Immediately tell an adult if something mean or creepy happens

And these strategies for a responsible and safer online life:

  • Visit only age-appropriate sites. Check out the site before your kids visit it. Know what features and what content exist and make sure they’re good for your kids.
  • Search safely. Use safe search settings for young kids or think about applying filtering software to limit inappropriate exposure.
  • Avoid strangers. Tell your kids that people aren’t always who they say they are in cyberspace. Explain that if someone they don’t know talks to them, they shouldn’t respond but should let you know.
  • Be a good cyber citizen! Remind kids that an Internet playground is still a playground and they need to play nicely. A good rule of thumb: If they wouldn’t do something in real life, they shouldn’t do it online. Find out how your children can report mean behavior or unkind content on their favorite sites and teach them how to do it.
  • Online cheating? It’s still cheating and it’s a no-no – pure and simple.
  • Keep the computer in a central place. So you can see what’s going on.
  • Establish expectations and limits about the amount of time your children spend online and what they do. Check out our family media agreement for a helpful place to start.
  • View your own habits carefully. You are their role models.
  • But, mostly, be involved and have fun with them! Keeping kids safe and teaching them how to use digital technology responsibly is all about staying involved. Start by showing interest in the sites they visit and the games they play and your job will be a lot easier when they start exploring these technologies more independently.

Some articles from Common Sense Media:

2. Some different search engines you might like to try with your younger children (you can find more like this at in the Research Center): 

(a search engine for students, it
searches only approved sites)

Google Safe Search
(SafeSearch is a Google setting which filters out adult content from Web and Image search results. The default filter level is set to moderate

(A cross between a search engine and an encyclopedia. The results return complete, informative sentences about the search topic. Related topics are suggested)

Google Advanced Search
(Scroll to the bottom of the page and move your safe search to ‘strict’, you can also opt to show reading levels on your search)

(a computational knowledge engine: it generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base, instead of searching the web and returning links)

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