What Can You as a Parent Do for Your Children?
Please take the time to follow some simple steps to help safeguard their Internet experience:
- Place your computer in the family room or another open area of your home. Or use the computer together at a library, school, or community center.
- Establish clear ground rules for Internet use for your kids. Decide whether to use parental control tools or protective software.
- Take the time to see what your kids are doing online and what their interests are.
- Teach kids never to give out their personal information to people they meet online especially in public places like chat rooms and bulletin boards.
- Tell your child not to respond when they receive offensive or dangerous email, chat, or other communications.
- Instruct your child never to plan a face-to-face meeting alone with online acquaintances.
What Are the Risks?
There are a few risks for children who use the Internet or online services. Teenagers are particularly at risk because they often use the computer unsupervised and because they are more likely than younger children to participate in online discussions regarding companionship, relationships, or sexual activity. If you have a teen in your family or you are a teenager, check out Teen Safety on the Information Highway or order a free copy by calling 800-843-5678.
Teenagers are particularly at risk because... they are more likely... to participate in online discussions regarding companionship...
Exposure to Inappropriate Material
One risk is that a child may be exposed to inappropriate material that is sexual, hateful, or violent in nature, or encourages activities that are dangerous or illegal.
Another risk is that, while online, a child might provide information or arrange an encounter that could risk his or her safety or the safety of other family members. In a few cases, pedophiles have used email, bulletin boards, and chat areas to gain a child's confidence and then arrange s face-to-face meeting.
A third risk is that a child might encounter email or chat/bulletin board messages that are harassing, demeaning, or belligerent.
Legal & Financial
There is also the risk that a child could do something that has negative legal or financial consequences such as giving out a parent's credit card number or doing something that violates another person's rights. Legal issues aside, children should be taught good "netiquette" which means to avoid being rude, mean, or inconsiderate.