CHILD SAFETY ON INTERNET
As a parent, by the time your child has reached the age where she or he can access the internet, you are quite experienced with setting limits to protect her or him. There are curfews, rules about where she or he can travel to unaccompanied, and what she or he will be up to when away from the house. And if they are traveling further than the neighborhood, a chaperone is usually present. If the rules aren’t obeyed, the child may be grounded, have privileges taken away, or be disciplined in some manner.So why don’t parents apply the same standards towards childproofing the internet and protecting their children while they access the internet? Internet safety should be every parents concern, as many recent cases have shown that predators aren’t just lurking by playgrounds in out-dated, idling vans attempting to lure children. Predators are using advanced techniques to target children and there are very real dangers that a child can be exposed to from the comfort of a desktop computer. To protect your children, you have to be vigilant. Here are some effective techniques to childproof the internet for your child.
- Tell your children about the areas of the internet that you think are dangerous for them, and tell them to alert you at once if they ever encounter anything (pornographic, racist, or violent websites).
- Establish rules that govern your children’s transmitting of personal information over the internet. It is never acceptable to send personal photographs, send personal information (such as home phone number or address), and never, ever to agree to meet in person. Any messages containing abusive, offensive or threatening language should be not responded to, and your child should alert you or another parent immediately.
- Many internet service providers off parental controls. If you’re not aware of them or don’t think you have access to them, contact your ISP’s customer service department and ask to be informed as to what parent controls and restrictions they offer. Generally, an ISP will be able to block access to many webpages, newsgroups, chat-rooms, programs, and other Internet sites that aren’t appropriate for your children to access.
- Buying blocking software. If your ISP doesn’t offer parental controls, or you feel that it’s inadequate, there are many software options available that will block inappropriate material from reaching your children. These programs are commercially available, easy to install, and are constantly updated with a list of sites. They also can prevent children from disclosing any personal information or photographs over the internet
- It’s important to gauge how much time your children spend on the internet, just as you would how much time they spent at somewhere else unsupervised. Occasionally monitor them to ensure that they’re being safe Internet surfers.
- Just as you would want your children to be protected at home, so you want your children to be protected at school. Inquire at your child’s school as to whether or not they have set-up an Internet Acceptable Use Policy (I-AUP) and that this includes faculty or staff monitoring of student Internet use.
- If your child spends a lot of time at a friend’s house using the Internet, you should also have a talk with that child’s parents to determine what safeguards they have in place to keep the internet safe for their children.
- If your child begins to act nervous, irritated, anxious or defensive when you question them about the time they spend on the Internet, or when you walk around them while they’re using the computer, this might be an indication that they’re involved in something on the internet they shouldn’t be. Because you don’t know for sure, and there has to be a certain degree of trust between parent and child, it’s best not to leap to conclusions, but to have already established with them why and what your policies are regarding their using the internet, and what you expect out of them.
- If your child receives any violent threats, abusive messages, harassing communications of any kind, or pornographic images through e-mail, instant messaging or social networking sites, save a copy of it, contact the Internet Service Provider (or webmaster, in whatever instance is appropriate) and also contact your local law enforcement agency’s cyber crimes division.
- The Internet can be a boon to inquisitive children. It can provide them with worthwhile researching skills and access to information they might not normally have access to (especially children in rural areas), but just as some knowledge must be forbidden from them, and some things taboo, so must they be restricted as to what they access on the internet for their own safety, and also who and what can access them. Good luck, and surf wisely!