Kids in Cyberspace

Keeping Kids Safe
It is that time of year when school is almost out and kids will be spending more time at home, unsupervised. If you are one of the millions of households with a home computer, this means that your child may be spending more time online. Parents must be aware that there are a few risks to children using online services that include exposure to inappropriate material such as pornography, and graphic language / suggestive writings, physical molestation, and harassment such as obnoxious or threatening messages.

A computer allows strangers into your house. Children using the chat rooms can obtain a false sense of security and are susceptible to requests for personal information about themselves or their families. The other kids in the chat room are often really adults, possibly a child predator, trying to lure your child and gain their friendship, eventually ending in a face-to-face meeting.

Internet Tips for Parents and Children
The following tips for you and your child on how to enjoy the Internet, while maintaining your privacy and safety:

  • Never give personal information to anyone online, such as your address, phone number, parent's names, birthday, school, and hours you get out of school or time your parents get home from work.
  • Never send pictures of yourself to anyone you meet online.
  • Never respond to messages or bulletin board ads that are suggestive, obscene, threatening, or that make you feel uncomfortable. Just like if this happened in person, it is important children tell their parents about this.
  • Never agree to meet with someone you have befriended online without your parent's permission. If your parents agree to the meeting, be sure they are with you and it is in a public place.

  • Some places on the Internet are adults only. If you find yourself in one of those areas, leave and go to one of the cool places on the Internet for kids. Use the parental discretion options where necessary to block these areas.
  • There are some programs such at Netnanny that are commercially available that can block the blatant sites a child may visit.
  • Keep the computer in a common area in the house so that you can monitor your child.
  • Tell your child that you have the ability to check what web sites they visited by reviewing Netscape or Internet Explorer,
  • which keeps log files.
  • Most importantly, parents need to surf the net with their children. It is important that if your child is computer literate, you need know the basics about what they are doing.
  • Notify the police of any attempt by adults to set up meetings with your child.