Birthday gift or Christmas gift or a reward for good grades, computers are on everyone's "I want" list. Parents, no matter why a computer appears in your home or the age of your school-aged child, remember it's okay to be a back-seat driver when your kids go exploring the Web. In fact, it's a good idea, at least until you've established some family ground rules. Use the information below to help you ensure that your child uses the Internet safely.
The following are some suggestions of things you can do to help protect your children online.
Tips for parents
Keep the computer in a room other than the child’s bedroom, so you can monitor what your child is doing, and for how long.
Set up an agreement and guidelines with your child about the use of the computer, including appropriate schedules and durations.
Understand the services that your child uses online. If you do not understand them, have your child teach you about them, or consult knowledgeable people in your community.
Warning signs that your child may be at risk online
Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night.
You find pornography on your child’s computer.
Your child is receiving phone calls from people you don’t know, or is making phone calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you do not recognize.
Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from people you do not know.
Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.
Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
Your child is using an online account belonging to someone else.
Tips for children
Do not give out personal information such as address, telephone number, parents’ work address or work telephone number, or the name and location of your school without your parents’ permission.
If you ever encounter something online that you don’t understand or that makes you uncomfortable, tell a parent or teacher right away.
Never get together with someone you met online without getting your parents’ permission first. If a meeting is decided, be sure that it is in a public place and that you bring one or both parents along.
Do not send any picture of yourself to anyone without getting your parents’ permission first.
Do not respond to any messages that make you feel uncomfortable. It is not your fault if you get a message like that, and it is okay to tell your parents no matter what it is.
Follow the rules that your parents set for computer and Internet use. Always make sure it is okay to go online before you do so.
Remember that people may not always be who they say they are.
Internet Safety Games
Listed below are several sites and addresses with games that promote Internet safety.
KidsCom Internet Safety Game
Disney Online: Adventures in Internet Safety
NetzSmart for Kids
And finally, get your Internet Safety License by answering the questions at this site correctly. You can then print out your license to surf the Web.