Free & Frugal Internet Safety Resources for Kids

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As my kids are getting older and technology is creeping it’s way into our lives, I am becoming more aware of the dangers that lie in cyberspace. Up until this point, my children have rarely been on the internet, but times are changing.

free frugal internet safety resources for kidsOur three oldest kids now have tablets that we do use mostly as educational tools, but they do have a couple of games that use internet access. And while we are extremely strict and have precautions in place to ensure their safety, I know many parents do not know how to install or even know where to look for such safety features. This is why I strongly believe all parents should be on social media and know how it works {add link} and why I’m thankful my husband plays Minecraft {add link} with the kids.

That being said, there are ways to help ensure your home is safe from predators relatively inexpensively. Of course, there are online sites that do cost money – a lot of money – but I think with several ground rules and some simple-to-install options on your computer, there is not necessarily a need for higher priced monitoring. Now, if you’re not a techie-type person and don’t care to learn – that’s a whole other can of worms we’re not going to open – then you might need to pay for an online monitoring system. However, if you are a tech-savvy person or are willing to learn (the best option if you’re a parent, in my opinion), then these frugal tips may help you out – at least for a few years.

First, if you don’t have ground rules for using the internet – YOU SHOULD! Our #1 rule, which pretty much eliminates the need for all other rules, NO INTERNET ALONE. No one is allowed to be on the internet alone. Not in their rooms, not in a room by themselves, nowhere alone. We have also put passwords on each device that the kids do not know, so they must have not only our permission, but us to put in the password to get on and play.

BUT, no matter how much training we give our kids, on the do’s and do not’s of the internet – things can always sneak through. Even innocently. A simple internet search on spanking can turn up things no adult should ever see, let alone a kid (true story – someone I know looked up that word years ago instead of corporal punishment. lol). But seriously, just one wrong word and your child’s innocent little mind has been compromised. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can help safeguard not only your computer, but also your family.

Internet Safety Software

Net Nanny – Software you install on your computer(s) and devices to monitor and block unsafe online content for your kids. Reasonably priced for 1 computer at $39.99/year and goes up from there depending on the number of computers/devices you want monitored.

FREE Kid-friendly Internet Browser – KidZui has a free downloadable kid browser. You can use this browser on your kids’ devices or set up a separate login for them on your home computer with this browser installed. KidZui only allows certain websites and videos to be viewed, which you can monitor.

You can also install a web protection software, such as K9. K9 is downloaded onto your computer and offers the ability to select sites and categories you deem okay for viewing. It also offers real-time malware protection, so your computer will be safe.

online games & sites internet safety

Online Games/Sites that teach Internet Safety

Know It All Resources – This site, ChildNet, has some great resources for parents, teachers and kids. Kids can learn online safety through games and other resources. There are resources for both primary and secondary ages!!

Another great way to talk to your kids about internet safety is to talk to them about strangers. Try reading The Berenstain Bears: Learn About Strangers with them to help explain to them in a fun way.
Stay safe on YouTube – Lasting Thumbprints shares how you can turn on Safety Mode for YouTube both on your computer and your mobile devices. It takes less than 5 minutes and will help protect your kids’ eyes when you can’t be in the room.

Safe has a printable Family Contract for Online Safety that parents can go over with their kids, explain the rules and sign it together.

FREE Internet Bingo printables – A fun way to talk about Internet Safety is by playing a game. Download it {free} over at Family, Home Evenings.
USA-SOS – This site is from the FBI and kids (3rd-8th grade) go on a “Scavenger Hunt” to obtain information before they take the online post-quiz. You will need to register each student who takes the quiz, but it’s free. A great and fun way to teach internet safety.

PBS Kids – Kids can get their “Online License” to ensure they understand the “Rules of the Road” as they maneuver the internet.

On Common Sense Media – If your kids are Phineas and Ferb fans, they will love this short video on being Cybersmart.

NetSmartzKids has some fun videos kids can watch to learn about internet safety and etiquette.

While it’s not all safety related, Ask a Teacher, has some great tips for teaching your kids about the internet. Such as, “not everything you read online is true.”

Disney Surfwell Island – Students can take a fun island adventure with Mickey and the gang all while learning and putting into practice internet safety. Once they complete all the challenges they can print out a certificate of completion!

Privacy Playground- The First Adventure of the Three Cyber Pigs – This is a game geared to ages 8-10. In this fun game, Cyber Pigs play on their favorite website and encounter marketing ploys, spam, and a close encounter with an no-so-friendly wolf. The goal of this game is to teach kids how to spot marketing strategies, protect their personal information and avoid online predators.

Safety Land – AT&T has a fun game on their site called Safety Land in which kids can learn about internet safety in an interactive city game. They have to answer questions in regards to internet safety and then receive feedback on their answers and why it was right or wrong. When all questions have been answered, the bad internet character is caught and ends the game. BONUS: You can print out all the questions and answers when students are finished!

iKeep Safe Kids is a kid friendly Internet safety program. It features a cat named Faux Paw who has adventures on the Internet. There are videos and downloadable, printable books for kids. Everything is centered on teaching kids to be safe online. The online books and videos teach kids Internet safety basics, how to handle cyber bullying, balancing real life with screen time, and the risks and dangers of downloading. Students learn about these concepts with fun cartoon characters and engaging stories.

Welcome to the Web – This is an interactive set of web pages which can be used to teach children about the Internet. There are 7 sections that children are welcome to explore them as they wish (although they have been designed to use in sequence). Parents click on the Teachers and Parents button to take you to additional information on how to use the downloadable questions.

Carnegie Cyber Academy – This is a free, comprehensive cyber citizenship game for kids to play and learn about the internet at the same time. Use the Classroom and Support Materials to create lesson plans, printouts, activities and more!

Think U Know Cyber Cafe – This virtual environment is a place where students can practice their online safety smarts.  In the cafe, students help virtual kids make good choices when using email, texting, instant messaging, web browsing, creating an online personal space, and chatting in a chat room.  Students are guided through a variety of scenarios where they must help the virtual kids make the right decisions about using the Internet. I like how this one takes the kids through more “real-life” situations.

Planet Nutshell has created some fun, entertaining and great videos teaching kids K-3 about internet safety. There are 18 of them total and you can find them and other videos here on their webpage. They range in length from 2-3 minutes, so they are quick and easy to watch with your kids. Have fun with them and do some review questions with your kids to make sure they fully understand what they watched. AND…review the rules often!

teach kids about cyberbullying

Learn about Cyberbullying

While teaching kids about internet safety is great, it is also important to teach them about Cyberbullying. It is real…very real. And it’s sad how quickly this has escalated into a phenomenon that causes kids to take their own lives. So when your kids reach an appropriate age (decided by you), I think it’s vital to show them just how much damage a wrong word, phrase or picture can do. Here are some great sites for teaching kids about Cyberbullying.

NSTeens – Older students and teens can learn about Cyberbullying, email, IM, chatrooms, gaming, revealing too much, social networking and other internet safety tips through fun and interactive videos, games and comics. There are also helpful tips on the “Stuff to Know” section next to the videos.

The Bully Roundup – BAM! (Body and Mind) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has a fun interactive board game to test your bully smarts in the wild west. There is also a short, but great article “Bully Beware” that gives ways you can learn to stay out of the bully’s way.

Even though my kids are not on social media (nor will they be for quite a while), our oldest does do some work on the computer. And while we have put safety measures in place, it doesn’t mean my kids don’t have friends who use it. So this year we will be talking about internet safety and going over the rules for using the internet in our home again. It’s never to early to teach them how to be safe online!

What are some of your internet safety tips?

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Hi, there! I’m Heather Bowen, and I am so glad you’re here.

My passion lies in helping homeschool moms balance marriage, motherhood, homemaking, and homeschooling all while remaining sane!

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