Protecting Your Kids From the World Wide Web

August 25th, 2011  Posted at   Parenting
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The Internet is an exciting tool. Online computer exploration offers many new opportunities to children. Children can do research for schoolwork, play games and meet friends all at the same time. Unfortunately there are people out there seeking to exploit children and sometimes adults. Be aware of the warning signs of an online predator and the rules for a safe online experience.

Below are some basic safety tips. You may think of more of your own to add.

For Children and Teens:
Sit down with your parents and go over all safety rules together. Be sure you understand completely. Ask questions if you are unsure.
Always ask your parents permission before logging on and get off when they ask you to.
Don’t put online time before your schoolwork.
Never reveal personal information about yourself or your family.
a. Your real last name
b. Your address
c. Your school
d. Parents work information

If you want to enter a contest or join a Web site that requires any of this information, ask your parents for permission first.

Never send pictures of yourself or your family without asking permission first.
Show your parents what Web sites you visit and ask them to spend time with you online.
Never agree to meet anyone you meet online in person.
If someone e-mails you something offensive or inappropriate, tell your parents.
Don’t reveal your password to anyone online — even if they claim to be the Internet service provider.
Do not give out your phone number or call anyone that you meet online. They can get your number if you call them.
Stay away from anyone who pressures you for personal information and tell an adult immediately.
Never download photos from an unknown source.
Don’t respond to messages that are obscene, suggestive or harassing.

For Parents:
Follow the same rules listed above for children.
Make sure your children know to ask permission before getting online. Go over the rules together and be sure they understand the consequences of breaking those rules.

Know where your children go online. Ask them to show you their favorite sites and what they do online.
Keep the computer in an open area such as the family room. Never leave your child alone in a room with the computer.
Check with your ISP server and make sure that your online profile does not give out more personal information than you are comfortable with.
Use a free e-mail service to keep your main e-mail address anonymous.

Warning Signs

Below are some warning signs that your child may be communicating with an online predator.
Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night.
You find pornography on the computer or in e-mail.

Your child receives phone calls from people you don’t know or makes long distance calls.
Child receives letters, packages or gifts from someone you don’t know.
Turns the monitor off or changes the screen quickly when you walk in.
Becomes withdrawn from the family.

These signs do not necessarily mean your child is being exploited, but it does mean you should be concerned and find out what’s going on. Communicate with your child and explain to them the potential online danger. Monitor your child’s access to online communications and monitor the phone calls to and from your line. Utilize parental controls. If your Internet provider does not have any, you can buy blocking software.

Most importantly, always be aware and involved in your child’s Internet use.

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