Kids are going online earlier and earlier to do homework, talk to their friends and keep in touch with family. But how do we protect our children from the dangers that lurk around every corner when they are using the internet?

Luckily most routers and internet providers have already thought of this. Modern routers have onboard parental controls and many internet providers offer them with their internet service. However, parental controls are not a replacement for good old fashioned parenting. You as the parent will have to bridge the gap from the parental controls to being online without them. Here is everything you need to know to keep your kids safe while they're online. Let's dig in!

Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

The Children's Internet Protection Act was created by congress to address ongoing concerns about what children can access while online in regards to inappropriate, harmful and obscene content. Schools and libraries nationwide must follow CIPA guidelines to receive discounts for internet access or go through the process to get certified.

Here are all the states with CIPA laws currently on the law books:

●       Alabama

●       Alaska

●       Arizona

●       Arkansas

●       California

●       Colorado

●       Connecticut

●       Delaware

●       Florida

●       Georgia

●       Hawaii

●       Idaho

●       Illinois

●       Indiana

●       Iowa

●       Kansas

●       Kentucky

●       Louisiana

●       Maine

●       Maryland

●       Massachusetts

●       Michigan

●       Minnesota

●       Mississippi

●       Missouri

●       Montana

●       Nebraska

●       Nevada

●       New Hampshire

●       New Jersey

●       New Mexico

●       New York

●       North Carolina

●       North Dakota

●       Ohio

●       Oklahoma

●       Oregon

●       Pennsylvania

●       Rhode Island

●       South Carolina

●       South Dakota

●       Tennessee

●       Texas

●       Utah

●       Vermont

●       Virginia

●       Washington

●       West Virginia

●       Wisconsin

●       Wyoming

Internet Safety Starts At Home

The Children's Internet Protection Act or CIPA only protects your children at school and in libraries, not at home. When at home it's your job as the parent to keep your kids safe online. You can start by teaching your kids all about online safety and why it is so important. By having positive interactions about online safety, you'll encourage them to make smart choices while online whether you're there to watch over them or not.

Encourage Open Conversations About Online Usage

The unfortunate reality is as a parent, you can't hover over your kids shoulder 24/7 to see what they're doing online. What you can do though is encourage your kids to come to you first when they have a problem online. At any time, if something goes wrong, big or small, they should be able to confide in you in their time of need without worry of punishment. The more available you are as safety and as a resource, the more likely they will come to you instead of hiding their problem.

Set Up Child Safe Internet Filtering

Internet filtering isn't only for school, you can set it up at home too with your router's app or through your internet service provider. It works very closely to how the filtering system at their school and library computers have. The only difference is you have control of which websites they can and cannot access by specific address or entire categories you deem inappropriate.

Block Inappropriate Websites & Keywords

Blocking specific websites and specific keywords you don't want your child researching is another way of ensuring that they cannot access inappropriate content. This is also done through your router's app or through your internet service provider. You could also only grant access to specific URLs and keywords while blocking all other content if you choose to. It's up to you as the parent how in depth you want to go with web filtering and blocking.

Set Up An Internet Schedule

Another great way to keep your children safe online is setting an internet schedule or window of time where your child has internet access. Limiting how much time spent online can ensure that they're being productive, staying out of trouble and makes it easier on you to keep an eye on what they're doing. Setting up a window of time where they're allowed online is easy to do through your router's app. You can set specific devices to have Wi-Fi access to the times you designate. So for example you can set it with a start time of 5pm to and end time of 8pm, Monday through Friday when they're out of school.

Internet Safety Basics

Start by giving your kids the tools to be safe online independently from any filtering or monitored time online. Here are some internet safety basic you should go over with your children:

●       Don't post personal information online including but not limited to your address, phone number, or current location.

●       Don't meet strangers from the internet in real life.

●       Don't post photos of yourself you would want your parents or grandparents to see.

●       Don't share your passwords with anyone including your best friend and parents.

●       Choose strong passwords every time.

●       Be kind while online. It's not okay to bully anyone on or offline.

●       Don't install games, software or other programs without checking with your parents first.

●       Keep social networking profiles private.

●       If you feel uncomfortable online, confide in a trusted adult immediately like your parents or a teacher.

●       Keep all devices in the household update with the most current internet security software.