The Internet is an extraordinary resource that links our children to a world of information, experiences and ideas that might otherwise be unavailable to them. However, the Internet can also expose our children to numerous risks, and it is crucial to remember that when a child is online, his or her safety may also be on the line. Just as you have taught your child basic safety rules for the physical world, you should also teach your child basic safety rules for the computer world.
The following basic safety rules pertain to all types of Internet applications.
- Place your child's computer in an area where you are best able to monitor his or her online activities.
- Take an active interest in your child's online activities.
- Warn your child never to reveal any identifying information such as: ethnicity, age, address, phone number, school name, parents' names, parents' employers or work addresses. Caution your child that predators and con-artists are experts at accumulating incremental amounts of personal data until they eventually obtain enough information to locate a user.
- Warn your child that identity is easily concealed online and that people may not be who they claim to be. Explain to your child that, for example, an online "friend" who claims to be the same age as your child may in fact be an adult in search of a child victim.
- Warn your child never to arrange an in-person meeting with someone met online.
- Warn your child never to accept anything sent to him or her by a person met online.
- Warn your child never to post online a photo of any family member without your permission. Explain that online images may be altered or "morphed" and used on, for example, pornographic sites.
- Consider using filtering or blocking software. There is an extensive array of filtering or blocking software available. Some of it is free of charge. However, you should be aware that the software may not be completely effective, children may be able to bypass the restrictions, or your child may use a computer that is not equipped with these protective devices.