May - Ten Tips of Internet Safety for Kids
Ten Tips of Internet Safety for Kids
How many times do we hear, “Boy, the times are changing?”
When I was a kid growing up, my folks worried about us getting hit with a hay bale while not watching, a rock thrown from a lawnmower, or hit in the eye with a corn cob during our “war games.”
Now life is really getting complicated in the Internet world. According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a majority of parents talk to their children about Internet use and establish rules for their safe use of the computer. However, less than one-half of them checked regularly for the children’s activity on the computer. The other half of the children surveyed did not need permission to use the Internet and didn’t have any restrictions as to the number of hours they could spend on the Internet.
Many parents have a false sense of security regarding Internet use because they view the computer as a safe educational tool. They have an attitude that my children are home, in some cases in their own rooms and are out of “harm’s way.” Obviously, this isn’t always true. We need to stay involved in their lives and activities and keep an open line of communication open regarding all their activities, not only in computer use.
TEN RULES OF INTERNET SAFETY FOR KIDS
- Never give out personal information on the Internet, such as their address, telephone number, the name or location of their school, or their parents’ name. Web sites or other online services may ask children for information in order to enter special contests or to obtain free gifts. Other Web sites won’t allow access unless the user gives them personal information. However, once personal information is given, it is important that your children understand that their privacy can be compromised. Their names could end up in a database, or worse, the information could be used to harm or exploit them.
- Be cautious when developing a Web site. Children should know never to post a home address, telephone number, or personal photographs. If children wish to be contacted, they should post an e-mail address and once it is posted, they may or probably will receive messages. Children should be very cautious when opening an e-mail from a non-familiar address. If they receive messages that are threatening or sexually explicit, immediately they should tell their parents.
- Never, under any circumstances, agree to meet face-to-face someone they have responded with online without a parent’s permission. If a meeting is arranged, make sure that it takes place in public and that parents always accompany the child.
- Avoid chat rooms that discuss sex or cults. While these topics may seem interesting at first, they could put a child in danger.
- Always inform their parents when they come across anything online that makes them uncomfortable. Parents and children can alert their Internet provider or the NATIONAL CENTER for MISSING and EXPLOITED CHILDREN hot line at 1-800-843-5678.
- Be suspicious of anyone they meet in a chat room who tries to turn them against their family, friends, teachers, or religion.
- Choose a gender-neutral online name in a chat room to avoid harassment.
- Never respond to messages or bulletin boards that are sexually obscene, threatening, or make them feel uncomfortable in any way.
- Never send any personal materials to an online friend, such as an additional telephone number, or photograph, without first informing parents.
- Always be reminded that the people they meet online may not be who they say they are.
These tips are good for home and school. However, with the wide spread use of cell phones, it is very prudent to have some controls on their usage like off at night and in your room instead of theirs. Obviously, if we communicate very openly and keep that line open, this is the best tool we have to deter unsolicited web predators from our children.
FOLLOW-UP IN ANY ARENA ISN’T A DIRTY WORD!!
Excerpts: parenting, ivillage.com
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.