Tips for Parents
Learn how to keep your family safe online
1. Getting Involved
Learn as much as you can about the Internet yourself. Surfing should be a family activity, so use the Internet together as often as you can and discuss any problems you encounter. Keep the computer in a room where the whole family can use it. For example, acquaint yourself with the basic language used by kids when chatting on the web, so that if you do see transcripts of their conversations you will understand what has been said.
2. Get Buy In
Sit down with your children and explain the issues surrounding the internet. Ensure that they are aware of the very real dangers that can occur and set some ground rules for them to follow. Some experts even recommend that you draw up an informal internet usage contract and get the kids to agree to its terms. It is important that when explaining the rules to the children you do so with their understanding and co-operation. This shouldn’t be seen as a ‘Big Brother’ type exercise but more about genuine concern for the family’s safety and well being. Once the kids know the reasons for the rules, and they feel they have contributed to them, they will more often than not abide by them.
3. Getting In Touch
Get to know who your children are meeting online and make sure they are wary of strangers and never give out any personal information about themselves or their friends/relations. Be particularly careful about children using chat rooms. Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without your permission and if they do want to meet, ensure that you are with them. Enquire whether your Internet Service Provider has any “moderated” chat rooms especially for your children's age: then make sure that your children only use those chat rooms. Acquaint yourself with the basic text/chat message language used by kids when chatting on the web, so that if you do see transcripts of their conversations, you understand what it is they have been saying.
4. Getting Around
Keep an eye on the kind of material your children are looking at and make sure that they go to the sites that you want them to see and not to the ones that you don't. Consider sharing an E-mail account with your children to oversee their mail.
5. Getting 'Gifts'
Unsolicited 'gifts' can contain offensive or potentially harmful files such as pornography or viruses. Teach your children not to open emails and attachments or download files other than from people they know and trust offline.
Be careful when you or your children are shopping online. Check that you are dealing with a bona fide company before giving out your credit card details or committing yourself to any transaction.
6. Getting Hooked
Limit the amount of time your children spend online, and encourage them to keep up their other activities and friendships. Keep the computer where you can check how long your children have been on the Net. Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by your children. Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder. Don’t forget to monitor their compliance with these rules. 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 babysitters.
7. Getting the Benefit - Think positive.
There are some wonderful resources for children to help them discover, create and connect with other children worldwide. Just as you look out for good TV programs for children take the time to find the best and most useful sites for you and your family. If you and your family regularly use a search engine such as Google, MSN or Excite, ensure that you select to have ‘Adult Filter’ switched on in the search preferences.
8. Getting Close - Keep Alert.
Always be mindful of any behavioral changes that might occur as a result of your child using the internet. For example, If your child starts becoming secretive about their time online, or copies downloaded files onto disk rather than the computer’s hard drive (so that people can not view them) or their mood changes after using the computer, you ought to try to establish the reasons