Set the Rules:
- Establish clear boundaries and rules for the “virtual world” the same as you would in the “real world”. Allowing kids to go online without supervision or boundaries is like allowing them to explore a major city by themselves.
- The computer should be located in the family room or common room within the home.
- Supervise and explore the internet with your children. Periodically check the website history. A routinely emptied history is a key sign that children are trying to hide the websites they have visited.
- Encourage open dialogue and communication about the benefits and dangers of the internet with your children. By providing guidance and discussion along the way, you increase your kids’ online skills and confidence along with their ability to be safer online.
- Teach children not to believe everything they see or hear online, and to report anything that makes them feel scared, nervous, or uncomfortable to a parent or trusted adult.
- Use and apply the filters and parental controls that are provided through you internet service provider. You can also apply filter settings to popular search engines like google and yahoo, etc. to help block inappropriate material. Consider installing monitoring software on your home computers. Remember: filters and monitoring software are no substitution for adult supervision and interaction.
Email, Instant Messaging, & Chat rooms
- Develop a screen name or email address that does not reveal personal information and is gender neutral.Poor examples: sally_norcross pointguard45cougars Good examples: 2galaxywrld pandasRc001
- If your children have email accounts, teach them how to copy and paste an email and use bcc: (blind copy) features, instead of forwarding emails that reveal other persons’ email addresses. Lead by example.
- Teach children to be “net wise” and not to be gullible by falling for chain emails or email requests that plead for the receiver to forward an email to a certain number of people.
- Be wary of all forwarded emails. These emails may have been created to spread computer viruses or other harmful spyware. Do not forward forwarded emails. If you must forward, cut and paste. Place ( ) around the emails in the cc: box or use the bcc: box. Address the email to yourself in the to: box. This will block the receiver from viewing all the email address contained in your message.
- Children should never reveal personal information online and in chat rooms including: name, age, address, school and/or images that reveal school name or give identifiers to their home location.
- Children who are cyber bullied should; not respond to the message; save the evidence and tell a trusted adult. Cyber bullying can be reported to the authorities and/or school. Set up new accounts.Cyberbullying Facts:
- 32% of online users are victims
- 40% of social networking users are victims
Most common forms of Cyberbullying:
- publicly disclosing someone else’s private e-mail or messages
- Sending threatening or aggressive messages
- spreading rumors online
Social Networking Sites
- If your children meet the age requirements and you decide to allow them to have a page on a social networking site, retain current copies of all their usernames and passwords. This can be an extremely important resource for you and the authorities if there were ever any serious safety issues concerning your child or your child went missing.
- When setting up accounts on a social networking site, make sure the settings are set to private and not public. This will keep your child’s website from being viewable from the general public. Regularly check the settings to make certain they do not default back to public.
- Periodically check your child’s social network site and make sure all of their friends are “real life” friends and that their site content is appropriate.
- Ensure that children do not post anything online that you would not let them post on the front door of your local grocery store.
- Photos and videos should never be posted online if they show backgrounds that reveal identifying information and/or provocative poses.