Internet Safety for Kids
The Internet has opened up
a virtual world of information for anyone with a computer and an on-line
connection. Children not only learn about computers, but are able to
access more information from more sources more quickly than from any
other medium. However, children need to learn the rules of the road, and
learn how to protect themselves from the pedophiles, abusers, and con
artists that may be lurking behind their screen. With a little bit of
planning and appropriate adult supervision, children can explore and
learn while minimizing, or eliminating the dangers of being abused or
Just like in a park or public place,
a child's best defense is a sound value system and a plan. Teach your
children about exploitation, pornography, hate literature, and
violence. Teach them what to do when something they see is troubling
or bothersome to them.
Set aside time to explore the
Internet together. That way, you can set the examples of how
suspicious messages or people are appropriately handled, and you may
be better informed yourself.
Monitor your children when they are
on line. If your child becomes uneasy or defensive when you enter the
room, it might mean that they are involved in something unusual or
Choose an Internet Provider that has
parental control features, and learn how to use them. Or, you may
purchase commercial blocking software to screen out sites by content
and key words you find objectionable. Such blocking is very effective,
and is already done by local libraries and schools.
Tell children NEVER to give out
personal information, such as address, telephone number, or their
parent's name. They should NEVER send pictures of themselves to anyone
they don't know, or that YOU have not met in person.
Assume NOTHING about anyone you or
your child may meet on-line. Pedophiles and con artists can easily
assume the on-line identity, language and apparent interests of a
child of any age and sex in order to lure and entice them to respond
as they might to a real person. Unless you have met someone in person,
what appears to be a chatty 15-year- old girl might actually be a
45-year-old male pedophile.
If you or your child comes across
material that you find pornographic, threatening, or otherwise
offensive, it might well be a violation of law. Save the material, and
contact your local law enforcement agency.
Another resource is the National Center
for Missing or Exploited Children. They function as a national
clearinghouse for tips and leads regarding the sexual exploitation of
children. You can call the 24-hour Child Pornography Tipline at
1-800-843-5678, or make your reports on-line at their website,
www.missingkids.com/cybertip. They will compile and forward the
information to the appropriate state, federal, or local law enforcement
agency for action.