Kids are social today. They want social media accounts and access to smart phones, tablets and computers. As a parent, you have two options to deal with their overpowering social craze: allow your kids some of that freedom while keeping a very watchful eye on what's happening, or restrict Internet access to them altogether. But the latter can backfire because most kids will simply use a friend's device. So let's assume you allow your kids a decent amount of access to the Internet. How can you effectively protect your kids from lurkers, predators and others that simply want to do harm online?

Here are some solid tips you can use to help keep your kids safe while online:

1. Try not to make the Internet a strange and long-awaited prize

If your kids have zero access to the Internet before the age of 15, they may be longing for that day to arrive - and they might go crazy when it comes. While you can't let kids use the Internet alone at a very young age, introducing them to things like smartphones and tablets (through your own usage) while they are young won't make those things forbidden. As a result, you'll take away that temptation.

2. Let your kids know that Internet dangers are very real

Show them examples of things that have gone wrong online, explain that the Internet is not as safe as it looks and help them understand that there are consequences for posting all kinds of things online.

3. Tell them the truth about things that are put online

Those things stay online forever. In most cases, it's hard to get Google to remove things attached to a name or face.

4. Don't let your kids connect or follow anyone that they don't know in real life

How can you monitor this? You can become friends with your kids through social networks, and see the people that they are adding regularly. But try not to be too harsh if they add someone that they don't know - you can always step in and let them know why that person needs to be removed.

5. Stay updated with the latest scams and schemes happening online

It's hard to protect your kids if you don't know what's happening. The same goes for making sure that you know how to use social networks. Keep up with technology, so you can be aware of what your kids are doing.

6. Monitor digitally

Keep an eye on what your kids do digitally. You can use the assistance of digital parental control apps, like these, that help parents monitor their kids from a distance using their own smartphone.

7. Explain how rules that apply in the real world still apply in the Internet world

Why should Internet rules be any different?

8. Give your kids Internet freedom

... but do make sure that all the aforementioned tips are in place.

Use these simple tools to help ensure your kids' safety online.

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