The Internet offers a wide array of educational and social opportunities to children but also has its risks. The risks include identity theft, online bullying and threats, copyright violations, and sexual exploitation. To minimize the risks parents need to be involved and stay in touch with their childís Internet use. Children often know more about the Internet than their parents or teachers. Donít let that deter you. Ask your child to give you a tour of his or her favorite sites and teach your child to use the Internet safely. The challenges posed by the Internet can help your child to think critically and learn to make good decisions.
You may find it helpful to establish rules for your childís Internet use. Here are some suggestions for rules that you may want to consider using:
- I will ask for my parentsí permission before I give out or type information about myself or them online.
- I will not post photos of myself online.
- I will not give out or type information about anyone I know without getting their permission first.
- I understand that people that I meet online do not always tell the truth about themselves.
- I will tell my parents or teacher if I get a weird instant message or email or one that makes me uncomfortable.
- I will not open email that comes from someone I donít know and will tell my parents about it.
- I will tell my parents if someone I met online wants to meet me in person.
- I will avoid getting into arguments or disagreements online.
- I wonít respond online to mean or hurtful things that others say about me. I understand that itís better to resolve differences in person to avoid misunderstandings.
- I wonít respond to messages or postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent or harassing.
- I will ask my parentsí for permission before I download files from the Internet.
These are basic guidelines for protecting your children online:
These websites offer more detailed information about how to keep your child safe on the Internet:
- Talk openly with your child about potential online danger.
- Ask your child to give you a tour of his or her favorite Web sites.
- Keep the computer in a common room and check in occasionally while your child is using it.
- Use the parental controls provided by your Internet service provider and blocking software to control the sites that your child has access to.
- Maintain access to your childís online account and regularly check his or her email.
- Monitor your childís access to all forms of electronic communication such as chat rooms, instant messages, and text messages.
- Review the contents of your childís computer. If you donít know how to do this, ask a knowledgeable person to show you how.
- Find out what safeguards are being used in your childís school, public library, and friendís homes.
- Inform your Internet service provider if your child has received any inappropriate communications or if a Web site is misrepresenting itself.
- Donít overreact if child is exposed to inappropriate material or has strayed into an area that you have forbidden.
- Donít blame or punish child if he or she has an uncomfortable online encounter. Work with child to prevent it happening again.
- Be wary about downloading files from someone you donít trust or donít know.
- Donít allow children to go online when you are not at home.
- Contact your local law enforcement, the FBI, and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children if any of the following occurs:
- Your child or household has received child pornography.
- Your child has been solicited for sex by someone who knows that your child is under 18 years old.
- Your child has received sexually explicit images from someone who knows that your child is under 18 years old.
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