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Internet Safety



Parents need to assert their authority with the use of technology. There are a lot of very bad people who do very bad things. However, parents can teach their children how to live in the wild world of the Internet.

This a great story from MSNBC regarding internet chat room predators. It's really a good piece with great information.  

Guidelines for Parents

By taking responsibility for their child's online computer use, parents can greatly minimize any potential risks of being online. Make it a family rule to:

  1. Never give out identifying information -- home address, school name, or telephone number -- in a public message such as chat or bulletin boards.

  2. Consider using a pseudonym. Avoid listing your child's name in any public directories and profiles.

  3. Get to know the Internet and any services your child uses.

  4. Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without parental permission.

  5. Never respond to obscene, belligerent, threatening or harassing messages or bulletin board items.

  6. Instruct your child not to click on any links that are contained in e-mail from persons they do not know.

  7. Remember that people online may not be who they seem.

  8. Remember that everything you read online may not be true. Any offer that's "too good to be true" probably is.

  9. Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by your children.

  10. Be sure to make this a family activity by keeping the computer in a family room rather than the child's bedroom.

  11. If your child uses a modern cell phone, see this site: Cell Phones and Internet Safety

More than 30 million of those younger than 18, or 45 percent of children in the United States, use the Internet. Online services generally provide their subscribers with an enjoyable, safe and rewarding experience. However these companies cannot police everyone who uses their service.

Risk Factors

Children can benefit from being online, but they can also be targets of crime and exploitation. Trusting, curious and anxious to explore this new world, children need parental supervision and commonsense advice to be safe on the Internet.

Inappropriate content can include nudity or other sexually explicit material; hate group or racist Web Sites; promotional material about tobacco, alcohol, or drugs; graphic violence; information on satanic or cult groups; or recipes for making explosives.

Further risks include possible exposure to inappropriate material; physical molestation; harassment and legal and financial scams.


Reduce the Risks

While children need a certain amount of privacy, they also need parental involvement and supervision. The same parenting skills that apply every day also apply to the Internet.

Talk about the values shared as a family and make the guidelines explicit, No matter how good of a kid, they're curious.

If a child talks about an upsetting person or experience encountered while online, don't blame the child, rather help them avoid problems in the future.

Filtering features empower parents to limit childrens access only to those sites rated appropriate for children. These programs can be configured by the parent to filter out sites containing nudity, sexual content, hateful or violent material.

Most sites are based on subscriptions, because they want you to start paying for it. Monitor expenses or credit cards closely to stay in touch with possible charges. Some filters can also be configured to prevent children from revealing information about themselves such as their name, address or telephone number.


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