Internet Safety for Kids of All Ages

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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Kids are being introduced to the Internet at a very young age. Research for homework and school projects is easily accessible from our personal computers that are located in our homes. As parents, we are responsible for monitoring our children's online activities and teach them how to stay safe online. Whether they are kindergarten or high school students, all children must be made aware of the dangers that lurk in cyberspace. Here are some online safety tips to help you keep your children safe online.

Young Children

Never give out name, address, telephone number or the city in which you reside.

Never give out the name or location of your school.

Never agree to meet a person you've met online without a parent's permission.

If you have permission to meet an online friend, take one or both of your parents with you.

Never send information or photographs to someone you meet online.

If e-mail messages make you feel bad or uncomfortable, do not respond to them.

If you get messages or e-mails from someone online that makes you feel uncomfortable, or if someone threatens you, save the message and show it to a parent.

Never visit a website without your parent's permission.

Never use the Internet unless you are supervised by an adult.

Middle School Children

Never give out personal information to someone you meet online.

Always analyze your screen name before using it to determine if it divulges your gender or any other personal information. Strangers can find you easily by collecting clues about your school, the city you live in, your community and your age. A screen name such as girlie girl or astronomyboy is a dead giveaway to your gender, while something like astronomylover tells nothing.

Don't add anyone you meet online to your Buddy List unless you know them in real life.

Never fill out online profiles. These give information to anyone world wide.

Never visit adult-only sites. Just like places in the real world, these are not meant for children. Some adult-only sites charge for access while others collect information.

Always be respectful of others when you're online. If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it online.

Cyberbullying is cruel and hurtful. Never participate in rumors or lies about anyone at your school, whether it be a student or teacher.

Never post your photograph online for any reason.

If you are being intimidated, harassed or threatened online, save the messages and show them to a parent or other adult that you trust.

If you intimidate, harass or threaten anyone online, they can save the messages and you will have to face the consequences of your actions.

The Internet is a web that connects people all over the world. We are pioneers of this marvelous technology and we must use extreme caution and be respectful of others as we take part in its development.

Cyber Predator Communication

Kids of all ages should be made aware that cyber predators stalk their prey by e-mail, instant messaging, with the use of cell phones and in online chat rooms. Children must be vigilant and realize that a stranger online is anyone they've never met in the real world. This includes people they have communicated with for weeks or even months. That person could be anyone and not necessarily the person that they're portraying themselves to be. Cyber predators gain the trust of children by talking to them over a period of weeks or months to gain their trust. Once they've accomplished their goal, they strike.

Statistics

Here are a few facts on how kids feel about their safety online. After each statement is the percentage of kids for that particular fact.

Kids feel safer online than in the real life situations - 18%

Kids think it's permissible to post a photograph of themselves online - 10%.

Kids give out their name, address, phone number, city name, gender and age online - 55%.

Kids have secretly met an online friend in the real world - 10%.

Kids prefer privacy while online - 52%.

Teen Safety Online

Teens like to have privacy when communicating with their peers online. Unfortunately, they also feel that they are safe when surfing the Internet. Just as they do in the real world, teens tend to feel invincible when they're online. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here are a few tips to help your teen remain safe while also enjoying some online privacy.

Keep your computer in an open area. Though you won't be looking over his shoulder every minute, you will be able to keep tabs on his online activity.

Never allow your teen to have a computer in his room that has Internet access.

Communicate with your teen about online activities and friends.

Assure that your teen knows that online communication should never be threatening, abusive or sexual in nature. If he feels uncomfortable, he should sign-off. Assure your teen that they can come to you if any online communication seems inappropriate.

Install a pop-up blocker on your computer. This will block offensive pop-ups.

Install filter and phishing tools on all computers in your home.

Install parental controls.

Sit down with your teen and create a list of Internet rules. Explain the consequences if rules are broken and follow through.

If you are going to allow your teen to log-on to chat rooms, insist that they only access those that are monitored.

Only allow teens into public areas of chat rooms.

Direct your teen to professional websites on health and sexuality.

Teach your teen to use legitimate sites to download music files, images and information. Copyright violation is illegal.

Teach teens to be respectful of others online. Cyberbullying is on the increase. If your teen participates in cyberbullying, he must face the consequences of his actions. Many times teens who participate in cyberbullying become victims themselves.

Forbid teens to visit pornographic or online gambling sites. Both pornography and online gambling are illegal and if they participate in these activities they can be charged. If possible use parental controls that will block pornographic and online gambling sites.

Remember, as a parent it is your responsibility to assure that your children remain safe online. These tips will help you accomplish that goal and your children will be able to research homework and school projects with confidence while remaining safe

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