of children and young people use the Internet every day without any problems at all, but
we've all heard about its darker side and the danger they could find themselves in. Here
are ten quick tips to make sure that your kids enjoy using this wonderful resource without
putting themselves at risk.
most important thing you can do to ensure your child's safety on the Internet is to be
there when they are using it. Don't let children surf in their bedrooms or in a separate
room to the rest of the family. If this is unavoidable, make sure that you are often in
and out of the room that they are using, keeping an eye on what is going on.
2. Have clear rules about what is and what is
not allowed and stick to them. This might be no e-mailing, no chat rooms, only chat rooms
approved by you or whatever you decide. Some people like to draw up a contract with their
children agreeing which types of site can be visited and which activities participated in.
3. Get involved in what your kids do online.
Get them to show you their favorite sites, tell you about their e-mail buddies and
explain what they like doing online. This will give you an insight into the possible
pitfalls. If you want to keep a check on which web sites they are visiting, click on
History in your browser window.
4. Download some filtering software. There is
software available that can stop your child giving out personal information such as
his/her name, address and telephone number. Stress to them the importance of keeping such
information private. Even competitions and product offers are not always what they seem to
be and false sites have been discovered with just the intention of getting this type of
information from children.
5. For younger children consider using a site
like Surf Monkey at http://www.surfmonkey.com where you can download free tools to help
children surf the web safely. There's the Surf Monkey Bar, which incorporates safety
features to ensure sites visited are kid friendly and there is the animated Surf Monkey
character which acts as a web guide to the surfing child. Parents can use a password
system to build in safety settings for the bar and browser and for activities on the Surf
Monkey Kids Channel. Parents can then sign their children up for the Surf Monkey club if
they want them to join in on the community features such as chat rooms, message boards and
e-mail. The bar is easily turned off for adult use.
6. Older kids are just as vulnerable as young
ones. Teenage girls, for example, are at risk from men who lure them into face to face
meetings after chatting to them online for many weeks before suggesting that they get
together. Make sure children know never, ever to arrange a meeting with someone they get
to know online without your permission. If they really want to meet up with a friend made
in a chat room or similar, go with them and make sure that the parents of the child/teen
that they are meeting know about the arrangement too.
7. Make sure that children understand that not
everything they read is necessarily true. This can be difficult, but it's a life skill they
need to learn. All through life we have to make decisions about whether or not information
is of value. Discuss with your children how to evaluate the material they find and the
difference between fact and opinion.
8. Teach them to stay out of trouble by not
posting anything bad about another person no matter how angry they may feel at the time.
Once a comment is out there it cannot be retracted, and many hurtful remarks have been
posted in the heat of the moment. It is much better to leave a chat area than to get drawn
into an argument.
9. See that they understand that taking
pictures, writing or music from web sites without the permission of the copyright holder
can get them into trouble as it is stealing someone else's work.
10. Tell them firmly never to pay money or
agree to pay money for anything without parental supervision and never to use your credit
card details without your knowledge and permission. Also make sure that they recognize
mass mailed money making schemes for what they are and are not foolish enough to waste
their money on them.
Copyright Colleen Moulding 2000
About the author: Colleen Moulding is a
freelance writer from England where she has had many features on parenting, childcare,
travel, the Internet and many more subjects published in national magazines and
newspapers. She has also published a variety of women's and children's fiction. Her work
frequently appears at many sites on the Internet and at her own site for women and
children All That Women Want.com a magazine, web guide and resource for women everywhere.
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