Dear Parent,

This is continued from last week

Ages 0 – 5

When our children are toddlers they usually are not computer literate enough to enjoy the Internet. But now is the time where you can introduce your toddler to the positive experiences of computer use. There are lots of preschool programs that help teach kids phonics, math, and other skills.

This is also the time when you can educate yourself on the positive and negative influences of the Internet. Child development specialist, Dr. Kay Kuzma, in her book The First Seven Years, says that, “The best thing you can do for your young children is to become acquainted with the Internet yourself and find out what is available to satisfy your child’s intellectual curiosity and promote learning. And at the same time become educated about the dangers.”

Dr. Kuzma also says, “A major danger as children become more computer literate, is that they will spend too much time sitting in front of the computer. Teach your children the importance of moderation and make sure they get enough physical exercise.”

Ages 6 – 9

As your child enters the elementary school years, they will start using the Internet for school projects and homework. Now is the time to add an Internet filtering software program on your computer to block offensive Web sites. There are several available on the Internet, some for free and some at a premium.

Safefamilies.org reviews the different programs available to help parents choose the right one. If it is available as a setting, I recommend blocking all chat rooms for children under 16. I would also block file sharing programs like Kazaa, Limewire, and BearShare to prevent someone from sharing an inappropriate picture or video with your child.

Software programs can’t protect your children from everything immoral though. Be sure to talk to your kids about what to do when they do come across a pornographic site. Your children should also be warned against sites that promote violence. Impress upon your children Philippians 4:8, “whatsoever things are pure…”

Dr. Kuzma says, “Since you won’t be there to monitor your children every moment of the day, you must teach them to use self-control in keeping away from those things that could pollute their minds. Put the computer in a place where you can easily supervise. Some Web sites are very tempting and knowing that Mom or Dad are around can strengthen a child’s resolve to avoid those that conflict with family values.”