Your Kids Safe Online
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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 adult use.
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 an argument.
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.
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
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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. http://www.allthatwomenwant.com
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