The good news about the Internet is also the bad news . . . anyone can publish to the Internet. Technology gives us immediate communication with family and friends. the ability to "visit" places about which we once only dreamed, a change to research topics which use to require a trip to the library and send photos to grandparents from any vacation destination. The same technology gives us the ability to communicate with potential predators, visit sites to which one would not dream of sending his or her child, explore topics with no regard for age appropriateness and send photos to strangers.
How many hours does your child spend on the Internet? Consider taking these steps recommended by ikeepsafe.org
and many others including the FBI
Establish rules, even contracts, for using the Internet.
- How long and under what circumstances can your child use the Internet?
- What content is allowed? Off-limits?
- What kind of messaging is permitted? E-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, blogs, wikis?
- What happens if rules are broken?
Teach your child important safety guidelines such as:
- Keep personal information protected. Never give your real name, address, phone number, birth date, the name of your school, or a picture of yourself to anyone you meet online.
- Do not meet in person with anyone you have met on the Internet.
- Tell a parent, teacher, or trusted adult if you feel uncomfortable about anything you see on a computer.
Keep the computer in a common room in the house and position the monitor so it is available for public viewing.
Use blocking software and filtering programs, but do not rely on them as your only line
of defense. (ContentWatch
Predators often use chat rooms to contact children. Teach children that people online are not always who they say they are.
If you want to read more about Internet safety visit:
- netsmartz.org - Source of Internet safety pledge (sample contract).
- safeteens.com - Designed to inform teens and their parents about Internet safety.
- cybertipline.com - Place to report messages your child received that are indecent, lewd, and obscene with intent to annoy, harass or threaten.
- netsmartzkids.org - Games that teach internet safety
- Homeland Security - Stop, Think, Connect Campaign
Since the 2006-2007 school year, Bristol Virginia Public Schools have mandatory Internet safety course for all students as well as additional opportunities for parents.