How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online
With school back in session, thousands of children will be surfing the Internet to conduct research, chat with their new classmates and complete homework assignments.
Although the Internet provides a tremendous learning tool for children, left unchecked it can also expose them to inappropriate material and unscrupulous individuals looking to exploit innocent children.
The Statistics of Online Abuse Towards Children Are Alarming
According to a survey conducted by NetAlert, nearly one child in every five has been approached online by a stranger, and 45% have been exposed to material that is pornographic, sexually explicit, violent, racist, or that encourages them to participate in dangerous or illegal activities.
One of the biggest threats are social networking sites like MySpace.com.
But MySpace isn’t the only threat.
According to Highlights of the Youth Internet Safety Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, one in five children received unwanted sexual solicitations online. There are a growing number of pedophiles using the Internet to gain a child’s confidence and arrange face-to-face meetings.
These cyber criminals are using everything from spam e-mails to online messaging, kid’s chat rooms, and misleading domain names to trap children. If your child uses the Internet, you must take measures to protect them from these dangers.
As part of our back-to-school newsletter edition, we’ve outlined 3 things you should be doing now to keep your kids safe online.
3 Things You Can Do Right Now To Protect Your Children Online
1. Install web and e-mail filtering software to prevent your children from viewing inappropriate material. We recommend using www.bsafeonline.com. Not only will this prevent your children from visiting inappropriate web sites, but it will also stop inappropriate spam.
2. Talk to your kids about online safety and proper Internet usage. Set limits and guidelines about when they can go online, what they can do, and how long they are allowed to be online. Explain why it is dangerous for them to “chat” with strangers online or download suspicious looking files.
3. Give your children specific online guidelines or rules to follow when using the Internet. It’s not enough to warn them about potential risks; pedophiles know how to cloak their identity and gain a child’s confidence to arrange face-to-face meetings.
Require Your Kids To Follow These Rules Online:
- I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work addresses, or our e-mail address to anyone online.
- I will tell my parents right away if I see a web site, e-mail, or message that makes me feel uncomfortable.
- I will never send my picture to anyone online or upload my picture to any web site without my parent’s knowledge and permission.
- I will never agree to meet someone face-to-face whom I met online without my parents’ knowledge and permission.
- I will not respond to any messages that are mean or that make me feel uncomfortable in any way.
- If I get a message like that, I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the online service.
- I will never give my parents’ financial information to anyone, especially their credit card information, bank account information, or social security number.
If you want more information on how to keep your children safe online or to report illegal, violent, or explicit acts towards children, go to www.cybertipline.com.
This site is run by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and is a great resource for parents, teachers, and guardians.