Internet Safety and Children
Most parents have spoken to their children about how to deal with strangers and what television shows, movies, and videos are appropriate to watch. Some parents, however, have not spoken to their children about strangers on the Internet or about the content of the Internet. Though the Internet can be a useful educational tool, some users are manipulative, rude, dishonest, or even criminal, seeking out those who are vulnerable and unfamiliar with the Internet. It can be useful for parents to speak with their children about the Internet and to set up rules governing its use. The following advice for parents is adapted from The U.S. Department of Education publication: A Parent's Guide to the Internet:
Never give out personal information, including name, address, phone number, age, race, family income, school name or location, and friends' names, or use a credit card online without parental permission.
Never share Internet passwords, even with friends.
Never arrange a meeting with someone you meet online.
Never respond to messages that are confusing or uncomfortable. Ignore the sender, end communication, and tell a trusted adult right away.
Never use bad language or send mean messages online. Remember that people you meet online are not always who they say they are.
Even without trying, children can come across Internet material that is obscene, pornographic, violent, or racist. This content can be quite offensive, but it is legal. Child pornography, however, is illegal. If a child comes across this type of material it is important to contact the Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE LOST or at http:// www.missingkids.org/. To help keep offensive Internet material away from children:
Ensure that children understand what is appropriate and inappropriate material. Which sites are okay to visit and which ones are not?
Be aware of downloaded or copied games. Some contain violent or sexual content, which may be inappropriate for some children.
Look into software that filters out offensive Internet materials and sites. For information contact Cyber-Sitter (http://www.cybersitter.com), Cyber-Snoop (http://www.peralsw.com), or Net Nanny (http://www.netnanny.com). Children are often smart enough to get around the restrictions these products provide. …