National Parenting Month: Keeping Your Children Safe Online

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Parents try to keep their children safe at home, at school and anywhere else their young may find themselves.

Children should also be protected while using the Internet. While the Internet is an invaluable tool for research, recreation and maintaining communication with family and friends the world over, there are several potential dangers lurking online.

Parents ought to make themselves familiar with the downside of the internet as well as the resources available to protect their young ones.

Let’s have a look at some of the dangers children can face online:

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying includes sending hateful messages or even death threats to children, spreading lies about them online, making nasty comments on their social networking profiles, or creating a website to bash their looks or reputation.

Often, children don’t tell parents they’re being cyberbullied; they’re afraid their parents will overreact or prevent them from using the Internet. But if the cyberbullying involves any physical threat, you may need to call the police.

Sexual Predators

The online world opens the door for trusting young people to interact with virtual strangers – even people they’d normally cross the street to avoid in real life.

Sexual predators migrate to wherever young people go online. More predators are now scouring social networking sites because these sites have centralized so much information.

A child’s profile typically includes photos, personal interests and blogs.

Predators may take on fake identities and feign interest in a child’s favorite bands, TV shows, video games or hobbies. They come across to the children as their new best friend to gain their trust and encourage them to meet in real life.

Pornography

One of the worst dangers of the Internet, for many parents, is the idea that pornography could pop up and surprise their children. But parents may not realize that some children are going online to seek out online pornography, too.

You can view the Internet browser history to see which websites your child is visiting. But since browsing history can be deleted, you may want to install Internet filtering software to block porn sites in the first place.

Damaged Reputations

Camera phones, digital cameras and web cams are everywhere these days, and children can become victims of their own inexperience with new technology. Many post pictures, videos or notes online that they later regret. Think before you post, because once you do, it’s going to be up there forever.

A child’s online reputation is a growing concern, with the rise of online social networking and profiles. Schools and employers have been known to reject young people for high school programs, internships, college admissions and jobs after checking out what applicants have posted online.

 

How to Keep them safe….

  • Make use of internet safety tools. Browsers such as KidZui, Yahoo Kids and PikLuk are a safe way for children to explore the internet. There are also internet filters such as NetNanny and monitoring software such as Web Watcher, which can be helpful tools for parents.
  • Don’t rely on internet safety tools. Keep in mind that no tool is 100% effective. Being aware of what your child is doing on the computer is the best way to protect your child.
  • Look and know. Pay attention and see what your child is seeing online. Keep the computer in a central place, such as the kitchen or living room, so that you can keep track of what your child is doing while you are making dinner or doing other chores.
  • Educate yourself about online dangers.What do child predators know that you don’t? What are some warning signs that your child might be at risk online? The US-based Federal Bureau of Investigation has a Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety that lists important safety tips for parents.
  • Help your children learn how to protect themselves.Children will have to learn how to navigate the internet on their own safely.  One very important thing to teach your child is to never give out personal information such as her name, birthday, address, and age.
  • Don’t wait to discuss dangers. Explain to your child as soon as she begins using the computer why she needs to be careful online, eg. “There are people out there who may pretend to be nice and friendly online, just like in the real world, and they may actually be dangerous.” Then, talk about what she can do to protect herself, such as not disclosing their location to strangers. Go over these safety tips just as you would safety tips about potential dangers from acquaintances and strangers.
  • Know about how he will be protected when away from home.Be aware of what safeguards are in place when your child goes online away from home (such as at school or at a friend’s house). What online safety tools do they have? Who is watching the kids and how closely?
  • Don’t forget the cell phone.If your child has a phone that allows him to connect to the internet, you have to monitor that as closely as you do his internet access from the computer.
  • Don’t forget the videogames.Many video games and gaming systems allow kids to go online and interact with friends, and more problematically, strangers. Before you allow your child to go online while playing video games, be sure that you know exactly who he is talking to and playing with, and monitor his gaming closely.
  • Be mindful aboutlimiting technology. While tech tools like computers, smartphones, and eReaders can be invaluable for kids and parents alike, don’t forget that it’s important to “unplug” Too much screen time may interfere with sleep, shorten attention spans, and interfere with learning, among other problems. And when you turn off screens, you have more opportunity to get outside and have some family fun.

 

JIS Social