CAUGHT IN THE NET
Keep Your Kids Safe Online
Thousands of children and young people use the Internet
every day without any problems at all, but weíve all
heard about itís darker side and the danger they could
find themselves in. Here are ten quick tips to make
sure that your kids enjoy using this wonderful resource
without putting themselves at risk.
- The most important thing you can do to ensure your
childís safety on the Internet is to be there when they
are using it. Donít let children surf in their bedrooms
or in a separate room to the rest of the family. If this
is unavoidable, make sure that you are often in and out
of the room that they are using, keeping an eye on what
is going on.
- Have clear rules about what is and what is not allowed
and stick to them. This might be no e-mailing, no chat
rooms, only chat rooms approved by you or whatever you
decide. Some people like to draw up a contract with their
children agreeing which types of site can be visited and
which activities participated in.
- Get involved in what your kids do online. Get them to
show you their favourite sites, tell you about their e-mail
buddies and explain what they like doing online. This will
give you an insight into the possible pitfalls. If you want to
keep a check on which web sites they are visiting, click on
History in your browser window.
- Download some filtering software. There is software
available that can stop your child giving out personal
information such as his/her name, address and telephone
number. Stress to them the importance of keeping such
information private. Even competitions and product offers
are not always what they seem to be and false sites have been
discovered with just the intention of getting this type of
information from children.
- For younger children consider using a site like
Surf Monkey at http://www.surfmonkey.com where you
can download free tools to help children surf the
web safely. Thereís the Surf Monkey Bar, which
incorporates safety features to ensure sites visited
are kid friendly and there is the animated Surf Monkey
character which acts as a web guide to the surfing child.
Parents can use a password system to build in
safety settings for the bar and browser and for activities
on the Surf Monkey Kids Channel. Parents can then sign
their children up for the Surf Monkey club if they want
them to join in on the community features such as chat rooms,
message boards and e-mail. The bar is easily turned off for
- Older kids are just as vulnerable as young ones. Teenage
girls, for example, are at risk from men who lure them into
face to face meetings after chatting to them online for many
weeks before suggesting that they get together. Make sure
children know never, ever to arrange a meeting with someone
they get to know online without your permission. If they
really want to meet up with a friend made in a chat room or
similar, go with them and make sure that the parents of the
child/teen that they are meeting know about the arrangement too.
- Make sure that children understand that not everything they
read is necessarily true. This can be difficult, but itís a
life skill they need to learn. All through life we have to
make decisions about whether or not information is of value.
Discuss with your children how to evaluate the material they
find and the difference between fact and opinion.
- Teach them to stay out of trouble by not posting anything
bad about another person no matter how angry they may feel at
the time. Once a comment is out there it cannot be retracted,
and many hurtful remarks have been posted in the heat of the
moment. It is much better to leave a chat area than to get
drawn into anargument.
- See that they understand that taking pictures, writing or
music from web sites without the permission of the copyright
holder can get them into trouble as it is stealing someone
- Tell them firmly never to pay money or agree to pay money
for anything without parental supervision and never to use your
credit card details without your knowledge and permission.
Also make sure that they recognize mass mailed money making
schemes for what they are and are not foolish enough to waste
their money on them.
© Colleen Moulding 2000
About the author: Colleen Moulding is a
freelance writer from England where she has
had many features on parenting, childcare, travel,
the Internet and many more subjects published in national
magazines and newspapers. She has also published
a variety of womenís and childrenís fiction.
Her work frequently appears at many sites on the
Internet and at her own site for women and children
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