By Chris Keller, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

From cell phones to iPads, kids are exposed to gadgets and gear at younger and younger ages. While the Internet is a wonderful place for learning and entertainment, it can pose dangers if precautions are not taken. Being a wise parent and empowering tech savvy kids to be safe is a high priority. When you decide what age is appropriate, prep your family with tools to help raise kids who are socially savvy and wise.

Smart Surfing  Help your children identify safe, credible websites and other digital content, and be cautious about clicking on, downloading, posting, and uploading content.

Keep Your Online Identity Secret  Remind your children that they should not share their last name, home address, school name, neighborhood, telephone number or passwords.

Be Good Online  Teach your kids to communicate politely online and respect other people’s views — just because they don’t agree with someone else’s views doesn’t mean you need to be rude. You may also want to remind them to be good “digital friends” by respecting personal information of friends and family and not sharing anything about others that is potentially embarrassing or hurtful.

Explain the Consequences  It’s good for kids to learn that actions have natural results — and online this is no different. Explain to your children that once something is posted or emailed…they can’t make it go away. Remind them that it’s good to err on the side of caution before posting. Suggest that they think in their mind “what would happen if Mom saw it? Grandma?”

Pay it Forward  If your child finds a misplaced or abandoned cell phone, tablet or other device, remind them to try to turn it over to law enforcement or the property owner.

As parents and caregivers it’s important for you to become familiar with the sites your kids use online. Make it a point to talk with your kids about what they’re doing online. Just like you know their offline friends, ask about the friends they have online.

Last, it’s a good reminder for your family to keep a clean machine. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. For more information on online safety tips for your home, children, or business, visit StaySafeOnline.org.