The Internet (internet safety tips) has made the world smaller and easily accessible to nearly everyone. The significance of the Internet cannot be denied in our modern lifestyle. Today, the majority of many people’s day is spent online. Almost every home has a computer with Internet access. With this easy accessibility comes risk. Children (protect kids) are able to access the Internet not only at home, but also at school and on their cell phones. Unfortunately, as much as the Internet has made life easier, it has also brought with it new types of crime and the need for parents to be ever vigilant when their children are engaging in online activities.
While many types of crimes take place online, those against children are the most heinous. In many cases online predators, who often aim to exploit them for abusive purposes, target children. Law enforcement experts say there are approximately 50,000 online predators at any one time. Your child, like many other computer savvy children, is at risk for being targeted by online predators. To thwart these efforts parents must be aware of their children’s Internet use. Likewise, they must have protective measures in place and guidelines regarding their child’s online habits and conduct.
Children today have easy access to the Internet with their own computers, smartphones, tablets, and game consoles. In the process of their everyday activities your child may come into contact with those who want to abuse, exploit, or bully them. A little awareness and education can make a great difference in protecting your children online. While there are many theoretical methods to reduce your child’s risk of online predation, a few common sense tips will help keep your child safe and your mind at ease.
Your Child’s Online Activities (Safe Online)
In many cases chat rooms are the most dangerous place for your child to spend time online. Chat rooms allow users to make personal information public and if your child does so, there is no way to monitor who has access to it. Identifying information such as pictures, names of schools, and birth dates are highly sought after by online predators. Sexual predators find exploiting children in these situations easy and exploitation is rampant. Predators are not always sexual, though. Chat rooms (safe online) also provide an avenue for cyber-bullying to occur.
Social networking sites are also highly dangerous for children. Again, personal and identifying information can be shared with the general public, especially if the child doesn’t know about privacy settings. In many cases, these types of sites are the breeding ground for cyber-bullying from peers. As a public forum it can be used to humiliate, embarrass, and insult others. Because posts are public it is easy for bullying to spread among peers and when the pack mentality engages it can become overwhelming for the bullied child.
Forums are a great place for your child to interact with others that have the same interests. Your child may find enjoyment in a teen idol forum, a hobby forum, or even a tutoring forum. However, like chat rooms, these environments allow your child to feel safe and think of the other posters as friends. They may be encouraged to share personal information either publicly or through private messages. Building rapport, especially over a shared interest, can lead a child to share vital information that may put them at risk for predation.
Finally, general carelessness and lack of education about computers can lead your child to download viruses and malware, causing damage to your computer. They may download spyware, which puts all of the information on the computer at risk. Without proper controls children have access to sexually explicit, violet, racist, extremist, and other harmful information.
Protecting Your Children Online
Protecting your children online requires forethought and vigilance. After implementing a few simple steps you, and your children, can enjoy the Internet in a safe and controlled way.
Education is the first step. Explain to children the Internet is not a scary place, but there are things they must do in order to keep themselves safe online. These measures include never giving out personal information and only allowing communication from people they know in real life. Teach your children that sites ending with .com, .net, .edu, and .org are usually the safest. Sites with different endings should be brought to a parent’s attention before proceeding. Teach children that when spyware warnings come up they are to exit the screen immediately. There are many age-appropriate educational resources available online. No matter what age your child is there is information to educate you both and keep them safe online.
While education is important, it is also necessary to take precautionary measures. Monitor your child’s computer usage. Simply being in the same room while they are online helps. Children that are unsupervised online will likely wind up on sites that are inappropriate. Keeping computers out of your child’s bedroom is an easy, effective way to have transparency.
Parental controls are an excellent way to prevent your children from visiting sites you have not personally approved of. Parental controls (protect kids) can set the time of day, length of time, and approved sites for online usage. These settings can be found on your computer and also in your web browser. There is also software that is designed to fully control your child’s activities online. They are extremely helpful in protecting your child from sexually explicit and adult sites. In many cases they will also provide a register of the sites your child visited and for how long. Also blocking pop-up ads and setting rigorous spam controls will help keep your child safe.
If you do allow your child to visit chat rooms, forums, (safe online games) and social networking sites, keep an eye on them. Kids enjoy instant messaging and talking to online friends. Browse the forums they are frequenting. Read the posts they have made. Add only the sites you feel are appropriate to their parental control panel. Check in on their posts occasionally either as a forum visitor or by accessing their account.
Your child’s email is also your concern. By having copies of the emails they send and receive sent to your email you can keep an eye on their online activities. This is thought to be more effective than simply having the password to their email account. There is software available for this purpose. Making sure you know who their friends are, and their email addresses, will help you protect your child from bullies and predators. Block email addresses, and even IP addresses, as you need to. This function can be found in your email client. In some cases you may prefer your child use a “family email” instead of a personal email.
Keeping your child safe online is never a black and white, guaranteed result. But educating your child and using a few simple methods to monitor their activity teaches them to be careful and responsible while online. Strive to keep the lines of communication open with your child so as problems or concerns arise they notify you. Together you will make their online activities safe, fun, and appropriate.