Keep Your Kids Safe Online

Keep Your Kids Safe Online
by Colleen Moulding

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 adult use.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 elseís work.

10. 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.

Copyright Colleen Moulding 2000

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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 All That Women Want.com a magazine, web guide and resource for women everywhere. www.allthatwomenwant.com Why not drop by? It was made for you! Subscribe to the free monthly e-zine containing articles, ideas, tips, site reviews and lots more by sending a blank e-mail to: allthatwomenwant-subscribe@egroups.com

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