Internet Safety Guide For Parents

The Internet is an area that can pose a very real threat to children. The
anonymity of the ‘Net offers adults the chance to pose as children, then
try to set up a face-to-face meeting. Young teens may also be lured into
virtual relationships with older adults that may result in actual
encounters.

Here’s what parents can do:

- Never give out identifying information — home address, school name, or
telephone number — in a public message such as chat or bulletin boards,
and be sure you’re dealing with someone that both you and your child know
and trust before giving it out via e-mail.

- Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age,
marital status, or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or
unlisting your child’s name if your service allows it.

- Get to know the services your child uses. If you don’t know how to log
on, get your child to show you.

- Find out what types of information it offers and whether there are ways
for parents to block out objectionable material.

- Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another
computer user without parental permission.

- If a meeting is arranged, make the first one in a public spot, and be
sure to accompany your child.

- Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive,
obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable.

- Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages.

- If you or your child receives a message that is harassing, of a sexual
nature, or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your service
provider and ask for their assistance.

- Should you become aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child
pornography while online, immediately report this to the National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children by calling (800) 843-5678. You should
also notify your online service.

- Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can’t
see or even hear the person, it would be easy for someone to misrepresent
him or herself.

- Remember that everything you read online may not be true. Any offer
that’s “too good to be true” probably is. Be very careful about any
offers that involve your coming to a meeting or having someone visit your
house.

- Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by your children.
Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder.

- Remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when
it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. A
child or teenager’s excessive use of online services or bulletin
boards,especially late at night, may be a clue that there is a potential
problem.

- Remember that personal computers and online services should not be used
as electronic baby-sitters.

- Be sure to make this a family activity. Consider keeping the computer
in a family room rather than the child’s bedroom. Get to know their
“online friends” just as you get to know all of their other friends.

Here’s what children can do:

Ask your child to observe the following rules:

- I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone
number, parents’ work address/telephone number, or the name and location
of my school without my parents’ permission.

- I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that
makes me feel uncomfortable.

- I will never agree to get together with someone I “meet” online without
first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I
will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father
along.

- I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first
checking with my parents.

- I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me
feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I
do I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the online
service.

- I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going
online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the
length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I
will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.

Source: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

© 2005, KIRO

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