Protecting your kids on the Web
Children have an innate curiosity that helps them both learn and develop. As parents, we try to cultivate and channel that need to explore the world while at the same time trying to protect them from its dangers.
The Internet is probably one of the best and most convenient mediums for exploring that world. The Internet is made up of computers linked together with a common language (protocol) throughout the world and controlled by no single government, company, or individual. It is just like a very large city (30 million people) found anywhere in the world. It is filled with both good and not so good people and places. In the outside world, you teach your child to be careful of strangers and avoid places which might lead them to harm. The same should also hold true for the Internet.
The Internet encompasses a number of different applications such as E-mail, WWW and chat lines (IRC) to mention a few. Each service brings with it its own peculiar benefits and dangers. However, there are some general rules that runs across all the different applications found on the Web.
The tips we are providing will not guarantee your child's safety but will go a long way to make their experience on the Internet much more positive.
Tips to Keep Your Children Safe on the Internet
- Tell your children never to give out personal information on the web unless they clear it with you first. This can range from their phone number, address, school name and whatever else you feel should be kept confidential.
- Tell your children never to tell anyone your password. If someone else has your password they have access to your E-mail, can abuse your Internet account and use your Internet profile to cause trouble. The password can also be used to control your children's access to the service.
- Don't let your children hide in their room with the computer. Keep it in a room where you can watch and participate in your children's on-line activities.
- Monitor your credit card bill and/or phone bill for unknown numbers or charges. Many Internet or Bulletin Board Service (BBS) sites require credit cards in order to gain access.
- Teach your child that if a site or situation makes them uncomfortable to leave and inform you about it so that you can both discuss it.
- Tell your child to never send a person their picture without checking with you first. Also avoid having your child's picture posed on your homepage or on theirs.
- Inform your children that not everybody is what they seem on the Internet. There are plenty of cases of adults posing as children and visiting child-related sites or chat lines. Children can't see them or hear the person on the Web so many of the warning bells that would normally go off don't.
- Be aware that just like in the real world you can be harassed through E-mail, destruction or tampering of your web page, and various other methods. If you are having trouble with someone inform your Internet provider.
- Tell your children not to become involved in a war of words with others or show poor etiquette while on the Web. Encourage your children to tell you if they're being threatened or bothered by anyone. If they are, inform your Internet provider.
- Don't allow face to face meetings with people your child meets on the Internet without your permission. Meet the person yourself first.
- Set reasonable limits for your children's use of the computer. Like most everything moderation is important; tell them to go outside and play.
- Consider your username on the Internet. Many female usernames get a lot of attention. Consider changing it to a gender neutral name or even a male type name.
- Remember that much of what you do, say or post on the web is out there for everyone to see. Much of it is recorded in a database somewhere and can be used by both scrupulous and unscrupulous individuals.
- Have your children show you where they go and what they do on the Internet. You can't protect them if you don't know what they are doing and what's out there. Many children jump at the chance to show their parents what they know.
- The police should become involved when direct threats of violence are made to any person. Contact the police at 236-1222 and file a report.
The Media Awareness Network