It is common now to hear about the dangers which may be lurking on the internet for our children. The internet is an exciting place full of information and fun, but sadly there are a few people who use the internet to hurt people and to commit criminal acts.
Here are some simple steps that you can take to keep your children safe while surfing the internet.
This is the single most important thing that you can do to keep your children safe on the internet; there is absolutely no better way to ensure that they do not visit inappropriate websites or strike up potentially dangerous online friendships. The ways that you can do this are:-
Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer parental controls which allow you to monitor your children’s email, to block your children from accessing certain types of websites and will log their internet activity. You can also buy software which you install on your computer to do this too. Some of the best known are Sentry and Net Nanny.
However, you cannot set up these controls and become complacent about your children’s safety. You must assume that eventually your children will find out how to get around them. Parental controls only work in conjunction with continuous monitoring.
Teach your children to question everything they see on the internet. If a screen pops up ordering them to click it they should always check with a grown up before they do, because they may be allowing spyware or a virus to be downloaded onto the computer. Explain to your children that not everything they read on the internet is true.
Your child should never give out any of the following details on the internet;
Do not allow them to post photographs of themselves. They should also never give out this information about anyone else.
Explain to your children about Spam. Teach your children to never open an attachment in an email unless they know the person that it came from, because it could contain a virus or material that you would not wish your child to be exposed to. If your child receives an email that upsets them in any way, encourage them to talk to you about it.
Online chat rooms are becoming increasingly popular, but this is another area to make sure your child learns to be wary. People can take on any identity that they wish so your child needs to understand that people may not be who they claim to be. Your child should never, ever give out personal details in a chat room.
They should also never agree to meet anyone they get to know in a chat room unless they have an adult with them. Make sure they understand that if their new internet friend suggests that they do something behind their parent’s backs, this person probably means them some harm.
Many people feel that because they are sitting at home, hidden behind a computer, anything they do or say has no effect on anyone. This is not true. Insults posted on the internet hurt as much as any others, so remind your children that they should always behave with consideration on the internet.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.