One of the scariest risks for our little ones when using the Internet is the danger of strangers. Over the years many paedophiles have had the opportunity to master Internet skills and their deception skills. These people use online chat rooms, instant messaging and email to locate, deceive and contact our children. Far too often we hear of children meeting up with these sick individuals. Many will start out by pretending to be another child, and slowly but surely gain your child’s trust. They study our children, learn how they talk with one another, what our kids are talking about, they will even play kids games, all to gain our children’s trust.
Most children will never suspect that they are talking with an adult, and once they have gained entry into a circle of friends they will spend a lot of effort locating a child that they think they can manipulate. They will happily act as a best friend and always endeavour to have the perfect replies, slowly but surely grooming the child to believe that they are fun, kind and helpful. Every minute they spend talking to our children they a waiting for a chance to locate them or have them come to them.
This might all sound far too scary a risk, to even allow your child onto the Internet but just like the real world, if we are aware of these dangers we can better educate ourselves and our children. We can then ensure that we install as many safety strategies as possible, to keep our young ones safe, while they explore the exciting, entertaining and educational world of the Internet.
- Place your computer where everyone can see and use it. Computers should not be placed in your child’s bedroom or in any room away from public view. Just as you watch your children while they play in a new area you should also watch your children while they play on the computer, for the Internet can be a dangerous area.
- Sit down with your children and openly discuss the need for safe behaviour rules and work out a list of rules to follow when using the Internet. You should include rules to protect everyone’s privacy, such as what can and can not be revealed over the Internet. Set a rule for how long your child can spend on the Internet. Explain the need for and use of good manners on the Internet (AKA Netiquette). Discuss the type of emails or Messages that should be ignored and what to do if they come across any suspicious or inappropriate content. Talk to your older children about copyright, privacy and hacking laws.
- If you can, use labels, safe zones and filters to block access to inappropriate content and sites. Also invest in Anti Virus Software, many have inbuilt filters and firewalls as well as anti-spam filters.
- It is your responsibility to select all the sites that your youngest children will be permitted to use. Spend time online looking for safe, age appropriate and fun sites and get a better understanding of the environment where your children will be playing. Just as you would get to know any location your child wants to play in. Locate safe, age appropriate search engines such as http://www.kidsclick.org/ and http://kids.yahoo.com, so your children can safely search the Internet. Once you have collected a list of safe sites for your children, make sure you bookmark them and even considered placing short cut links on your desk top for them.
- Just like in the real world, our children enjoy it when we spend time playing with them. This should include time on the Internet. Spend time together looking for new and safe sites. I once joined a club with my kids and we all had a lot of fun. The kids really seemed to enjoy teaching me the ropes. After this experience I was more aware of the environment in which my children were playing. It continues to be a topic that we talk and laugh about.
- Learn to use or at least understand the software that your children will be using. You wouldn’t give your child a new toy without checking how safe it is. It’s not that hard, software nowadays is designed to be user friendly almost all software comes with a help section and/or a wizard to guide you through the fundamentals. Get experience using your email, go to the chat sites and Internet Clubs that your children will be using and make sure that they are safe. Be aware of common forms of Internet communication, such as Instant Messaging, message boards and blogs. Learn how they work and what level of security they provide to protect your children.
- Always talk to your children about their experiences online. Make it very clear that you want them to come to you with any concerns they have when using the Internet. Make sure they understand that they will not get in trouble if they should come across any inappropriate content. Teach them how to deal with inappropriate material. Also make sure your children understand that the information they locate on the World Wide Web will not always be accurate or reliable.
- Limit your child’s email correspondence. Develop together a list of friends and family that they can receive emails and messages from. Make sure your older children understand the problems that can occur when the post information to a website. All the information you post is available to anyone and even if you remove your information you can never be sure that others haven’t already copied it. Make sure they also understand the dangers of posting their email address on the internet. This could result in them being spammed, flamed, stalked, bullied and/or sent inappropriate content or even viruses and spyware. Make sure they are aware of the problems and how to fix them. For example they may need to change their email address.
- It is most important to monitor your child’ activities, check the history of sites visited, check deleted material and buddy list. Make sure your child is aware that you will be monitoring their activity and understands why.
- Never use a computer video. It reveals your child’s identity to anyone they chat with. These can be dangerous tools that paedophiles can use to spy on your children. Some will even hack into a system and turn on the video without anyone being aware that they are being watched.
Copyright (c) 2008 https://safekidsonline.wordpress.com.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU
Free Documentation License“.