There are great reasons for kids to go online everyday. They can chat with friends, research school projects, and explore hobbies and interests. But the Internet also holds potential for harm. Young people can become detached from real-world friends and activities, grades might suffer as they neglect homework, and worst of all, kids can fall victim to predators on the Internet.
Just as you teach your children to follow safety rules for talking to strangers or crossing the street, and to brush their teeth and tie their shoes, you can teach them how to stay safe while surfing the 'Net.Set Guidelines for Internet Use
- Decide how long and when your child can use the computer each day.
- If possible, set up the computer in a common area so you see what's going on.
- Let your child know that you have a right to see what's on the screen, if you choose.
- Talk to your child about sites visited, with whom they've conversed, and what topics were discussed.
- Familiarize yourself with your child's favorite sites. Make sure any chat rooms your child visits are monitored, live, by adults.
- Travel the Internet with your child. Bookmark safe sites for your child to visit alone.
Larry Magid, founder of SafeKids.com and author of "Child Safety on the Information Highway," a free booklet distributed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says children can avoid perilous situations by following some simple dos and don'ts:
- Don't give out personal information -- address, telephone number, school name and location -- without parents' permission.
- Do tell your parents right away about anything online that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Don't agree to get together with someone you met online without first checking with parents. If parents agree to the meeting, make sure that it's in a public place and a parent comes along.
- Don't send anyone your picture without permission.
- Don't respond to any messages that are mean or cause you to feel bad. Tell your parents right away.
- Don't give out any Internet passwords to anyone but your parents.