Online Safety Tips
Safe Internet Surfing Tips for Parents and Kids
Top Ten Tips for Parents to Share with their Kids About Online Behavior
Talk with your children to agree what kind of sites they are allowed to visit.
Have open conversations with your children about the kinds of websites they are allowed to visit. Once you establish guidelines you then need to check to make sure that they stay within these agreed limits. Sometimes your children will stumble upon content that you do not want them to see
Unfortunately there are many websites on the Internet that actually ‘lure’ kids into their site. For instance, most kids spend a lot of time on youtube.com However, if your child mistakenly adds an extra y to the url (youytube.com) they are immediately whisked away to a very graphic XXX site. So even if your kids agree to certain limits they can easily land where they don’t want to be.
Keep your children out of unmonitored chat rooms and monitor where they go.
Most all kids are involved with a chat room or two. They ‘meet’ new friends virtually but in the virtual world you never really know who you are talking to. Sometimes these people are adults trying to gain the friendship and trust of young children. Additionally, children should stay away from chat rooms that allow sexual discussions.
Some chat rooms are monitored by an employee of the company or a volunteer. However, the chats can get fairly explicit. If the participants in that conversation are asked to leave the chat room they can simply use another form of communication to continue the conversation online. Chat rooms can be a dangerous place and parents need to talk to their kids about the potential dangers.
Place the computer in a well-trafficked area in the home where the whole family can use it.
While this practice can help with younger children parents need to also realize that kids today access the Internet in so many ways. While keeping the family computer in a central area helps, it is not a total solution.
The reality is that kids can go online almost anywhere: school, library, coffee shop, work or a friend’s house. They have devices such as cell phones, smart phones, consoles like X box and Play Station that can all connect to the Internet.
Set up very specific guidelines if you are going to allow your children to have accounts on social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.
Be sure you have access to their account so you can monitor what they are posting and saying online. It is also a good idea to become their friend so you can actually monitor how and who they are interacting with. And remember, once it is posted it lives forever on the Internet-there is no delete or un-do.
A public university denied a woman a teaching degree because of a photo she posted on her MySpace with the caption “drunken pirate”. (The Wired Campus, 2008)
Never give out personal information online.
This includes things like,address, telephone number, the name or location of their school, or their parents' names. You also need to be careful of any photos that you might post.
A simple picture of you, in a cheerleading uniform, standing in front of your house could provide enough information for a stranger to physically locate you. Online predators have ways to innocently ask simple questions over a period of time that gives them enough information to know who you are and where you live.
Never, for any reason, agree to meet someone face to face that you met online.
Unless your parents are aware of the meeting and plan on going with you, this could be potentially very dangerous. Even if your parents are with you the meeting should take place in a public area.
You simply just don’t know who you are talking to online. Over the course of two years, MySpace kicked 90,000 known registered sex offenders off its website. (Schonfeld, 2009)
Make sure you have access to your child’s email password.
Very little information is required to set up an email account with services like Google or Yahoo. Basically you provide a name, age and a password and you can quickly and easily set up a free email account. If your child has additional email accounts they may be conversing with people they don’t want you to know about.
A 14 year old girl from Canada reported, “I was online in a chat room and this guy was sexually harassing me by saying stuff to me and he wouldn't leave me alone. i had to exit the chat room and shut down my email account so he couldn’t bother me”. (CyberBullying.us)
Did you realize that there is no way to verify your age online?
Porn sites, gambling sites, alcohol and tobacco and drug sites simply ask if you are 18 when you sign up. All anyone has to do is to check a box, agree that you are 18, and you are allowed to set up an account and view the site.
In January 2009 a Supreme Court decision took “online age verification” off the table as a requirement for Children Online Protection Act. So when it comes to the Internet we are pretty much stuck with trusting kids and adults to give their correct age.
Make sure your kids know to tell you about anything online that makes them uncomfortable.
Most kids who suffer or experience cyberbullying do not tell their parents as they are afraid they will lose their online privileges. They also do not report unwanted email or spam with sexually explicit materials.
Be sure to talk to your kids about cyber bullying.
Four out of 10 kids have been bullied online and five out of 10 have said mean things about others online. Cyber bullying continues to grow and the ultimate bade result can be bullycide or suicide. Also, most kids who suffer or experience cyberbullying do not tell their parents as they are afraid they will lose their online privileges.
After being bullied and tormented, 13 year old Megan Meir hanged herself. While it was thought that a teenaged boy was sendingin her messages on MySpace, it was actually a classmate’s mother who fabricated the profile and bullied 13 year of Meir.