Tips for making sure kids stay safe online
The Internet is a great resource for children; however, if not monitored correctly this object of convenience can become an unhealthy and hazardous environment. With such an abundance of information at their fingertips, it is easy for children to unknowingly end up in a pedophile's playground. Online chat rooms, instant messages and message boards are easy ways for sexual predators to hunt their prey.
• Never fill out questionnaires or any forms online or give out personal information (such as name, age, address, phone number, school, town, password, schedule) about yourself or anyone else. Make sure your children understand that if he or she gives your phone number to someone online, they can easily find your address and get a map to your house.
• Never agree to meet in person with anyone you have spoken to online.
• Never enter a chat room without Mom and/or Dad's presence or supervision. Some "kids" you meet in chat rooms may not really be kids; they may be adults with bad intentions. Remember, people may not be who they say they are.
• Never tell anyone online where you will be or what you will be doing.
• Never respond to or send e-mail to new people you meet online. Remember: It is okay not to answer every e-mail and instant message.
• Never go into a new online area that is going to cost additional money without first getting permission from Mom or Dad.
• Never send a picture over the Internet or via regular mail to anyone you've met on the Internet.
• Never buy or order products online or give out any credit card information online.
• Never respond to any belligerent or suggestive contact or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. End such an experience by logging off and telling your parents as soon as possible.
• Always tell someone you know about anything you saw, intentionally or unintentionally, that is upsetting. (It is better for your child's mental health to be able to discuss exposure to pornography than for it to become a dark and confusing secret.)
• Be sure to keep computers in common household areas.
• Children should have gender-neutral screen names.
• Talk to your child about what sites they visit, whom they communicate with and who's on their buddy list. No software will ever be a substitute for being an active parent.
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