Internet Safety for Kids

Internet Safety for KidsKids need our protection everywhere: at the park, crossing the street, in public places, and when dealing with strangers. However, some not-so-obvious places, like the Internet, can be just as dangerous. We'll tell you what you need to watch out for and how to help your child avoid these online dangers so that the Internet remains a safe and fun place to visit.
My child is an online chatterer/ multiplayer online gamer/ blogger/ instant messenger (IM)/ Web surfer. When your child is as social and curious on the Internet as they are in real life, it's time to sit down and have a chat—even if by IM! But first, educate yourself. Here are some things you need to know about online predators:

  • They go to the same Web sites that kids do. Just because a site is meant for kids doesn't mean that its audience is exclusively kids. In fact, there are plenty of predators posing as a peer or as someone who is trustworthy. Teach your child never to provide any form of personal information online that someone could use to track him or her down.
  • They can manipulate kids with bullying behavior. Kids are taught to respect adults as authority figures. Online predators know this and will try to scare kids into doing what they want—including meeting them in person or getting their personal information so they know where they live. Teach your child to report any bullying behavior to you immediately so you can report that person to the proper authorities. We've included resource links at the end of this article to help you.
  • They can manipulate kids just as easily with kindness and understanding. Online predators can appear to be everything a kid is looking for and may even send gifts or money to further emphasize the relationship's importance. Teach your child never to accept these kinds of advances or gifts even if the giver appears to be thoughtful and kind.
  • They do not fit any stereotype. They can be a man. A woman. And from any walk of life. They will often use a kid's insecurities to earn trust, hoping for a face-to-face meeting. Most importantly, they're in no hurry and have plenty of time to work on building the relationship. Teach your child never to make assumptions about who they are chatting with—no matter what the person may look or sound like. Bottom line: tell your child never to agree to meet with anyone they have met online.
Even if your child doesn't use the Web for social reasons, it still pays to be cautious. Simple online searches can yield results that are totally inappropriate for a child's eyes. It's always a good idea to closely supervise your children when they're online, but if you can't always be there teach your child to always come to you if something doesn't look, feel, or sound right.
What not to disclose online. Ever. With the onslaught of online video, photo albums, and blogs, kids can share themselves and their personal information with the world. Help them steer clear of predators with these tips:
  • Make sure they don't share any personal information online. This includes first or last names, birth date, city or state of birth or residence, family or sibling names, telephone numbers, or addresses.
  • View all pictures before they post them to the Internet. Backgrounds in photos can provide "where you're at" information that you don't want to disclose.
  • Don't allow them to post photos of themselves which may catch the eye of a predator.
  • When creating online names for blog and Web pages, have them choose something that does not indicate gender or reveal who they are.
  • Set clear rules and guidelines for what sites they can visit, how long they can be online, and who they can communicate with.
When used appropriately, the online experience is a great way for your child to learn, be creative, improve communications skills, keep in touch with friends and family around the world, and so much more. With the right knowledge and rules in place, your child will remain safe and secure and be able to enjoy the World Wide Web as it was meant to be experienced.
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