Guidelines for safety on-line
The computer grants a kind of anonymity to those who use it. This means adults and children cannot be sure with whom they are interacting. By taking responsibility for your children's on-line computer use, you can greatly minimize any potential risks associated with being on-line.
By being involved in your children's computer exploration and applying the same parenting skills you use in the "real world" to their time on the Internet, you can help expand their horizons without them being vulnerable to predators or unwanted influences.
Protecting yourself and your children from becoming a victim of crime through the Internet requires some time-tested and practical crime prevention measures, acute awareness and appropriate caution.
Make being on-line a family activity:
- Become an active participant in your children's on-line life. If you don't know how to log on, get your children to show you.
- Consider keeping the computer in a family room, or another central location, rather than in a child's bedroom.
- Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use. Print out, discuss and post Rules for On-line Safety near the computer as a reminder. Ensure compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer.
- Be aware that excessive use of on-line services or bulletin boards, especially late at night, may be a clue that there could be a potential problem.
- Do not use personal computers and on-line services as electronic babysitters.
Monitor the sites your children are accessing:
- Get to know their "on-line friends" just as you would their other friends. Get to know the services your child uses and find out what types of information they offer.
- Employ existing technology that enables you to identify any program areas you deem inappropriate for your children. On-line links lists many types of blocking software available to prevent access to inappropriate sites.
- Consider personally logging younger children onto your Internet service and keeping the password a secret.
Be careful revealing information:
- Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or unlisting your child's name.
- Never give out identifying information - home address, school name, or telephone number - in a public message such as chat rooms or bulletin boards, and be sure you are dealing with someone both you and your child know and trust before giving it out via E-mail.
- Instruct your children not to provide any personal information about themselves or other family members without your permission
Do not believe everything you read or see on-line:
- People on-line may not be who they seem. Because you can't see or even hear the them, it is easy for someone to misrepresent him- or herself. Thus, someone indicating that "she" is a "12-year-old girl" could in reality be a 40-year-old man. For an example, read Could this be you? Could this be your child?
- Remember that everything you read on line may not be true. Any offer that seems too good to be true probably is. Be very careful about any offers that involve a personal meeting or having someone visit your house.
- Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounters such messages.
If you or your child:
- receives a message that is harassing, threatening or sexual in nature, or
- becomes aware of a transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography while on-line,
immediately report it by calling the Task Force's toll-free 24-hour help line 1-877-474-KIDS (5437) or your nearest police agency and notify your on-line service.