Monday, January 30, 2006

Five Tips to Keep Kids Safe on the Internet

Exercise Parental Control –
As a parent you are naturally concerned for your child’s safety at school, at the park, and even in your home. There is another place, though, where you should be making sure your child is always safe. That place, as you probably already know, is the Internet. The online world is one full of fun, adventure, and information. However, it can also be a very dark and highly dangerous place as well. Because children tend to be less skeptical than adults and want to believe rather than disbelieve what people are telling them, they can become a target for those who wish to prey upon that innocence.
There are some frightening facts to consider when it comes to your child’s safety on the Internet. For instance, one in five children were solicited for sex on the Internet last year; about 25% of children were exposed to photos of sexual acts, and about 1 out of every 17 children was cyber bullied last year. Cyber bullying can include threats of harm to the child, threats against friends, or even against family. It is not something that should be overlooked as a danger for your children online.
Like with just about anything, the Internet has its good points and can be enjoyed by you and your children. There are precautions you should take, though. Here are five tips for keeping your children safe when they are surfing the Internet. Nothing can ever keep them 100% safe, but by following a few of these tips, you can help them avoid sexual predators and cyber bullies that can turn innocence and fun into darkness for you and your child.
The first thing you can do is to communicate with your child. Explain to him or her some of the dangers online and that you want to help them avoid those dangers. To that end, post a list of rules near the computer where they are visible at all times. Some good rules to include are: Never give any of your personal information to anyone online, keep your address, phone number, and where you go to school to yourself; immediately let your parents know if anything you see online concerns you, makes you uncomfortable, or scares you at all; always check with your parents before you even consider meeting someone in person that you met on line, since offline meetings can be dangerous if the wrong person is involved; never, for any reason, give your internet passwords to anyone other than your parents; check with your parents before you download anything like software onto the computer, it could endanger your family’s privacy or the computer itself; and just like in real life, never do anything that could harm anyone else or is illegal in any way. Post these rules so that they are always visible and can act as reminders.
The second tip is to simply keep an eye on your children. When they are online, try to directly supervise them as much as possible. Since that is obviously not always something you can do, at least put the computer in a high traffic area where you can easily see what they are doing. You may even consider locking the computer with a password if a parent is not in the area or if your child is old enough to be home alone.
Third, depending on the age of your child, you may want to consider some sort of spy software for your kids. There are “tattle tale” software programs that will record exactly what your child is doing online down to chatroom texts and screen shots.
Fourth, if you don’t want to go as far as a spyware program, there are keylogger programs for parents. Keylogger software will record all keystrokes made from the computer so that you will know what you child has done from his or her end of things, anyway.
Lastly, communicate with your kids. Talk to them openly about the Internet, your concerns, and why you have those concerns. Explain that it is not a trust issue, but rather that you just know that there are people out there who wish them harm and you want to protect them. Your own child’s awareness and maturity may even surprise you.
The Internet can be such a wonderful place, full of information, friends, fun, and adventure for both adults and children. However, just like the park, the mall, or sometimes even the playground, the Internet does harbor those who wish harm or to prey upon children. However, like in other places, you can cut down the risk and keep your family safe by following a few common sense tips that can put your mind more at ease as your techno-savvy child surfs the net.

1 Comments:

Blogger Shawn T Lippert said...

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10:19 PM  

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