The Internet is a vast new world of information, entertainment and learning opportunities, but “cyberspace” also holds many dangers for children. Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your child.
How to Introduce Your Child to the Internet
- Explain to your child that even though he or she may be alone when using the Internet, other people can connect to your computer to find out who and where you are and that precautions must be taken.
- Explore the Internet together, letting your child take the lead.
- Talk to your child about things that concern you about the Internet … like exploitation, pornography, hate literature and the like … so they’ll know what to do if they encounter it.
How To Control Access
- Choose an online service that enables you to block access to any site not marked as appropriate for children … chat rooms, bulletin boards, news and discussion groups … or to the Internet altogether.
- Buy software that lets you design your own set of protective barriers to block sites and prevent your child from giving out information online.
- Look over your child’s shoulder from time to time, not only checking what is on screen but also watching for uneasiness or other signs that something forbidden may be going on.
Teach Your Child to:
- Let you know right away if he or she sees anything disturbing online.
- Never give out any personal information.
- Never agree to meet someone face-to-face after encountering them online.
- Never respond to messages that contain obscene or weird language.
- Avoid sites that charge for services.
Other Ways to Promote Cyber-Safety
- Make sure Internet access at school is controlled and monitored by adults.
- If your child has a friend with Internet access, find out from that child’s parents if adequate controls are in place and if children are monitored when online.
- Make sure your child’s school has an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that defines acceptable and unacceptable online activities and resources, spells out the consequences for violations, and has a place for you and your child to sign.
- If your child receives offensive or threatening email-mail, save the material as evidence and contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.
- If you encounter a site that’s inappropriate for children, send its address to online services and sites that provide blocking software so they can review it.