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Internet Safety Tips



Traditionally on-line services have been oriented towards adults, but that is changing. An increasing number of schools are going on-line. In homes children are logging on to all kinds of commercial web pages and bulletin boards. As a parent you need to understand the benefits and risks of all these services.

The Internet is not governed by any entity. This means no limiting or monitoring the information made available on the Internet.

BBS systems, (Commercial Bulletin Boards), are systems that can be operated by anyone; individuals, businesses, or organizations. They usually offer information on various interests or hobbies. Some are geared toward adult viewing. Usually they will limit minors from accessing, but beware as there is nothing regulating, thus monitoring, this free flow of information from your children.

Online services are maintained and regulated only by the organization, business, or individual that provide the information.

Most people mainly have positive experiences from being on-line. Children and teenagers also greatly benefit from the vast array of opportunity and fun using the World Wide Web. However, children and teenagers are often targets of crime and exploitation. Parent supervision, and a Filtering System, is a must for insuring a safe and happy experience on-line. The benefits do out way the risks if a Parent takes the time to set up the appropriate security measures.

What are the Risks?

Teenagers are usually at higher risk as they usually participate in on-line companionship discussions. These discussions are usually not supervised, leaving the chance for very inappropriate conversions. Three of the main problem areas are as follows:

Viewing in appropriate material: examples are materials of sexual or violent nature.

Harassment: continual harassing, demeaning notes through emails or BBS's.

Physical Molestation: while on-line a naive, trusting child or teenager might provide his address or arrange for an encounter that could risk his or her safety.

How to reduce the Risks

While children and teenagers need a certain amount of privacy, they also need parental involvement and supervision in their daily lives. The same general parenting skills that apply to the "real world" also apply while online, even more so since Internet is not regulated, leaving harmful material only a button click away.

If you have cause for concern about your children's online activities, talk to them. Also seek out the advice and counsel of other computer users in your area and become familiar with literature on these systems. Open communication with your children, utilization of such computer resources, and getting online yourself will help you obtain the full benefits of these systems and alert you to any potential problem that may occur with their use.

By taking responsibility for your children's online computer use, parents can greatly minimize any potential risks of being online.

Make it a family rule to:

Never give out identifying information -- home address, school name, or telephone number -- in a public message such as chat or bulletin boards, and be sure you're dealing with someone that both you and your child know and trust before giving it out via E-mail. Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status, or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or un listing your child's name if your service.

Never give out identifying information -- home address, school name, or telephone number -- in a public message such as chat or bulletin boards, and be sure you're dealing with someone that both you and your child know and trust before giving it out via E-mail. Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status, or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or un listing your child's name if your service

Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If you or your child receives a message that is harassing, of a sexual nature, or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your service provider and ask for their assistance.

Should you become aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography while online, immediately, please notify authorities if possible.

Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can't see or even hear the person it would be easy for someone to misrepresent him- or herself. Thus, someone indicating that "she" is a "12-year-old girl" could in reality be a 40-year-old man.

Remember that everything you read online may not be true. Any offer that's "too good to be true" probably is. Be very careful about any offers that involve your coming to a meeting or having someone visit your house.

Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by your children (see "My Rules for Online Safety" below as a sample). Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder. Remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. A child or teenager's excessive use of online services or bulletin boards, especially late at night, may be a clue that there is a potential problem. Remember that personal computers and online services should not be used as electronic baby sitters.

Be sure to make this a family activity. Consider keeping the computer in a family room rather than the child's bedroom. Get to know their "online friends" just as you get to know all of their other friends.

Kid's Rules for Internet Safety"

I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents' work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents' permission.

I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.

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 my mother or father along.

I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.

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 so that they can contact the online service.

I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. 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.



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