Top Ten Internet Safety Tips - Ensuring Online Safety For Your Family

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  1. First educate yourself, then your child.

    Banning a child from certain sites may only motivate them to spend more time on them, whereas educating your child on how to keep safe will give them the tools they need to navigate their online world without being hurt; from not posting personal information to a site to understanding that people they are talking to may not actually be who they are. If the parents know the dangers themselves, this sets an example to the child to understand them as well.
  2. Teach children the obvious identity rules.

    Tell your children NOT to put photos of themselves on the Internet or to give out their names, addresses, phone numbers, schools, or other personal information online.
  3. Install an Internet filter or family safety software.

    Family safety software is becoming extremely advanced and an effective way to filter dangerous content. Additionally, this software usually comes with tools like time management, remote monitoring and reporting, and keystroke recognition, giving families greater peace of mind and manageability.
  4. Know the dangers associated with sites your children frequent.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Whether it's MySpace, Facebook or another social networking site, by knowing what people are doing on your children's favorite sites that could put them in harm's way, parents can educate their children and show them the warning signs of potentially dangerous situations.
  5. Teach children what to do if they encounter pornography on a home or public computer, such as at a school or a library.

    In a similar fashion to the fire warning of "stop, drop and roll," you can teach children to quickly turn off power to the computer monitor and go to get an adult. This can prevent a child from attempting to stop the situation by clicking more buttons (and thereby spreading the attack and being exposed to more porn).
  6. Manage your children's time on the Internet.

    Scheduling times when a child can be on the Internet and the amount they can be online ensures that you know when they are on the Internet and how long. By not allowing them to have free reign reduces their chances of being exposed to inappropriate content.
  7. Set specific Internet guidelines for your children to live by and consistently enforce consequences, if they are not being followed.

    Giving your children specific guidelines to follow will ensure they know where they stand when it comes to how they use the Internet as well as the consequences when they breach the rules. If a parent enforces consequences consistently, their children will be more likely to follow the rules.
  8. Keep computers out of children's bedrooms and in open areas.

    With PCs in the open, children will be less inclined to view and access material that may not be acceptable.
  9. Create a relationship with your children that is conducive to open communication.

    Open communication and trust is extremely valuable. By letting children know what is expected from them and that their safety is a top priority, they will feel that if something happens --whether they are approached by a cyber stranger or bully or receive an inappropriate e-mail - they can approach a parent to resolve the issue without feeling they are in trouble.
  10. Understand Internet Privacy Policies as they apply to your child.

    According to the FTC (http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/privacyinitiatives/childrens.html), parents should be aware of the following as it pertains to protecting their childrens' privacy on the web:

What Website Operators Must Do:

Post their privacy policy.

Websites directed to children or that knowingly collect information from kids under 13 must post a notice of their information collection practices that includes:

  • types of personal information they collect from kids-for example, name, home address, email address or hobbies.
  • how the site will use the information-for example, to market to the child who supplied the information, to notify contest winners or to make the information available through a child's participation in a chat room.
  • whether personal information is forwarded to advertisers or other third parties.
  • a contact at the site.

Get parental consent.

In many cases, a site must obtain parental consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information about a child.

Consent is not required when a site is collecting an email address to:

  • respond to a one-time request from the child.
  • provide notice to the parent.
  • ensure the safety of the child on the site.
  • send a newsletter or other information on a regular basis as long as the site notifies a parent and gives them a chance to say no to the arrangement.

What Parents Should Do:

Look for a privacy policy on any website directed to children.

The policy must be available through a link on the website's homepage and at each area where personal information is collected from kids. Websites for general audiences that have a children's section must post the notice on the homepages of the section for kids.

Read the policy closely to learn the kinds of personal information being collected, how it will be used, and whether it will be passed on to third parties. If you find a website that doesn't post basic protections for children's personal information, ask for details about their information collection practices.

Decide whether to give consent.

Giving consent authorizes the website to collect personal information from your child. You can give consent and still say no to having your child's information passed along to a third party.

Your consent isn't necessary if the website is collecting your child's email address simply to respond to a one-time request for information.

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