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Child Safety on the Internet

Child Safety OnlineThere are risks for children who use online services. Teenagers are particularly at risk because they often use the computer unsupervised and because they are more likely to participate in online discussions regarding companionship, relationships, or sexual activity. Some risks are:
  • Exposure to inappropriate material of a sexual or violent nature.
  • Physical molestation: while online a child might provide information and arrange an encounter with pedophiles that could risk his/her safety.
  • Harassment: A child may encounter email or bulletin board messages that are harassing, demeaning, or belligerent.

While children need a certain amount of privacy, they also need parental involvement. Most online services allow parents to limit their children’s access to certain services and adult-oriented chat and bulletin boards.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids and Teens

  • Never give out personal information to anyone you meet online.
  • Never meet in person with anyone you don't already know. People are often not who they say they are.
  • Do not fill out any "fun" questionnaires that are forwarded to you, even if they're from your friends.
  • Know everyone on your "friends" list.
  • There's no such thing as "private" on the Internet. People can keep what you post forever.
  • Do not answer emails or instant messages from people you don't know.
  • Be careful about posting pictures of yourself or other people.
  • Do not download content without your parents' permission.
  • Never share your password with anyone but your parents.

From Common Sense Media

Safety Links

NetSmartz for Kids

An interactive website with 3-D activities to teach kids how to stay safe on the Internet. This educational safety resource is from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA)

Online Safety Quiz for Kids

See how well you know how to be a safe Internet surfer.

Safety Tips: Internet Safety

A kid-friendly section from the Federal Bureau of Investigation website lists some important tips for kids to keep in mind when using the Internet.

Online Protection Tools

Online tools are available that will let you control your kids' access to adult material and help protect them from Internet predators. No option is going to guarantee that they'll be kept away from 100% of the risks on the Internet. So it's important to be aware of your kids' computer activities and educate them about online risks.

Many Internet service providers (ISPs) provide parent-control options to block certain material from coming into a computer. You can also get software that helps block access to certain sites based on a "bad site" list that your ISP creates. Filtering programs can block sites from coming in and restrict personal information from being sent online. Other programs can monitor and track online activity. Also, make sure your kids create a screen name to protect their real identity.

Getting Involved in Kids' Online Activities

Aside from these tools, it's wise to take an active role in protecting your kids from Internet predators and sexually explicit materials online. To do that:

  • Become computer literate and learn how to block objectionable material.
  • Keep the computer in a common area, not in individual bedrooms, where you can watch and monitor its use. Monitor any time spend on smartphones or tablets.
  • Share an email or social media account with your child so you can monitor messages.
  • Bookmark kids' favorite sites for easy access.
  • Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behavior.
  • Forbid your child from entering private forums; block them with safety features provided by your Internet service provider or with special filtering software. Be aware that posting messages to forums reveals a user's email address to others.
  • Monitor your credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar account charges.
  • Find out what, if any, online protection is offered by your child's school, after-school center, friends' homes, or anyplace where kids could use a computer without your supervision.
  • Take your child seriously if he or she reports an uncomfortable online exchange.
  • Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678 if you're aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography online. Contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI if your child has received child pornography via the Internet.

Many sites use "cookies," devices that track specific information about the user, such as name, email address, and shopping preferences. Cookies can be disabled. Ask your Internet service provider for more information

    Kids’ Rules for Online Safety

These rules are aimed mostly at younger children, at oldest pre-teens. Appropriate “rules” for online use vary by age, maturity of the child and family values (updated June, 2013) 

  1. I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number without my parents’ permission.
  2. I will tell my parents right away if I come across something that makes me feel uncomfortable.
  3. I will never agree to get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring a parent along.
  4. I will talk with my parents about posting pictures of myself or others online and not post any pictures that my parents consider to be inappropriate.
  5. I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do I will tell my parents right away.
  6. I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online and using a mobile phone. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
  7. I will not give out my passwords to anyone (even my best friends) other than my parents.
  8. I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly hurt our computer or mobile device or jeopardize my family’s privacy.
  9. I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.
  10. I will help my parents understand how to have fun and learn things online and teach them things about the Internet, computers and other technology.

   Kids' Rules for Online Safety Agreement    - Download the word document of these rules as an agreement between you and your child.  Print it out and go over it with them.

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