May 3, 2016 | Pranavi Jonnalagadda

Remember those days when all you had to worry about as a parent was making sure your kids got home safe and sound. Nowadays, even at home, the dangers don’t go away. In fact, one of the top challenges that parents have to deal with today is guarding their children against the dangerous influences of technology.

If you believe everything you hear about kids online, you might think pedophiles and cyberbullies are around every cyber-corner. Yes, there is bad stuff out there. But the truth is, there’s a lot of good, and some experts are arguing against a “techno-panic mindset” that worries parents unnecessarily. The bottom line is that we can’t keep our kids safe if we don’t know the facts.

According to stopbullying.gov: Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.

Children use a variety of online services, and each of these services can have different safety concerns. However, there are some basic tips which you can employ no matter how your children use the Internet.

  • Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of your home.
  • Establish limits for which online sites children may visit and for how long.
  • Remember that Internet technology can be mobile, so make sure to monitor cell phones, gaming devices, and laptops.
  • Surf the Internet with your children and let them show you what they like to do online.
  • Know who is connecting with your children online and set rules for social networking, instant messaging, e-mailing, online gaming, and using webcams.
  • Continually dialogue with your children about online safety.