In today’s society, technology is leading the way for everything we do. Computers are a huge part of that technology. Several years ago computers were considered a luxury that not everyone was able to obtain. Today computers are part of our everyday life being used in almost every line of business, schools, and homes. As computers grow to make our lives easier, technology is always changing. The World Wide Web is one of the technologies that is constantly changing and growing.
The World Wide Web is a great source for information, fun, meeting new people, shopping, music and news. When used properly, the World Wide Web is a resource that can provide a person instant access to useful information. But when the Internet is used unsafely it can put people into a very dangerous situation. When a child is online without parental supervision, he/she can experience all these negative things and which would place them into real danger.
Internet Safety and Concerns:
- Have the computer in a common room of the house. This allows for supervision but also gives the kids easy/fast communication with the parent if something happens.
- Know the computer. Parents should know how the computer works and the sounds that it makes. If a parent knows what a computer sounds means, they can tell without looking at the computer if a child is doing things they should not be doing.
- Set up ground rules. Parents should have ground rules in place for a child’s Internet activity, such as times allowed online, sites/pages that are allowed to be viewed, and who they can and can’t talk to should all be set as rules.
- Monitor children’s activities. The computer can store information such as where their child has been online and what activities they have been involved in. Parents should have knowledge to temporary files used i.e., cookie files and know about parental controls so that they can assist in keeping their child safe.
- Stranger safety. Children forget about stranger safety while online because they feel safe in their own home. Parents must reinforce that people they meet online are STRANGERS.
Surf with the kids. Parents should sit down with their children and “surf” the net with them. This shows an interest in what the children are doing and also gives a parent insight into what their children are doing online.
- Buddy lists. Several message/chat programs allow children to save information on people they chat with on a regular basis. Parents should know who these people are. Parents can also regulate who is on the list and can “block” unwanted people.
- Know your child’s screen name. Every message/chat program requires that a “screen name” be used. A screen name can tell a lot about what children may be doing online and may also give out personal information that should not be given out i.e., real names and dates of birth.
- Internet Lingo. The Internet has a language all of its own that parents should know about. Abbreviations and acronyms are used regularly and widely known. Parents need to be aware of this because children can be saying things online that appear harmless but could be providing a lot of information, i.e., POS-parent over shoulder, which would be an indicator to their correspondent to switch to a noncontroversial topic.
Dangers of the Internet:
- Predators – People online are luring children into potentially dangerous deadly situations.
- Home Safety – Children are giving out personal information online jeopardizing their own and their family’s safety.
- Fraud – Internet is full of people who are “con artists” cheating people out of their money with fake charities. Credit card fraud and identity theft are a very big problem online.
- Theft – People are stealing trademarked copyright material online, which is against the law. When using shared programs, you are opening your computer so others may take things and at times the information they can get is personal and not for a strangers eyes.
Pornography – The Internet is full of adult and child pornography. Some sites require money but a lot are free of charge, which means anyone of any age can get access to these sites.
- Profiles – Kids enter information on profiles that give out too much personal information. Never give out real name, address or phone number.
- Posting online – Kids are posting pictures of themselves and family online. This is dangerous and should never be done.
- Never meet or allow children to meet anyone they know from online only
- Never respond to unwanted/threatening/harassing/pornographic messages
- Know when your kids are online and monitor what they are doing
- Know the computer sounds and what each one represents
- Parental control software should be used by parents
- No child should have “private passwords”