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Internet Safety Facts

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There are many benefits for children using the internet

When kids use the Internet the educational advantages are endless. The Internet is used by schools, universities, libraries, businesses and more. The Internet is a virtual encyclopedia.

And you don’t have to be a computer geek to use the Internet. It is incredibly easy. Use it for homework, communicating with friends, games, shopping and even business.

It is important for parents to know Internet safety. In fact, parents should be as tech savvy as possible.

The internet gives great benefits to everyone … most of all children. And with all of its advantages, it has disadvantages which can create dangers for children.

It is critical that every parent and every childcare giver know everything there is to know about the Internet and the possible hazards it creates for children. Learn how to deal with them … learn the Internet rules.

Sign a Child/Parent Internet Safety Agreement between you and your kids.

How to tell when children spend too much time on the computer

Too much time or too little time is subjective. Only you will know for sure and each child is different. Some kids really use the computer for studying, emailing their friends and playing games, while others spend hours surfing, going into chat rooms and even going into adult web sites that are not appropriate for children.

If your child tends to research homework, they can hours on the Internet and if they are seriously into games and chatrooms they can spend days on the Internet. Kids are great at switching from one screen to another, making it difficult for you to know what they’re really doing.

Once you know the facts and rules, and your child’s needs on the Internet, you will create your own timeline as to how long your child will spend on it.

However, when children spend too much time on the computer they can tend to neglect their studies, chores and social activities. It is very easy for children to They may also run up heavy telephone bills.

How to know what your children are doing online

Understand that kids are very curious about a variety of subjects. Often they will use the Internet to view material that is only appropriate for adults.

Although you want to respect their privacy, you need to know what they do with their time every day … especially on the Internet. Learn how your kids surf the Web. Sit down with them and ask them to show you the sites they surf. Get familiar with their patterns of use and time spent online. Learn the potential threats that they can be exposed to and look for changes in behavior. Remember that many mobile phones now offer Internet access.

Emails and Chatrooms

Kids love sending and receiving email, instant messaging and the interaction in chatrooms. Be sure you know who they're sending emails to and who they're getting emails from. And be sure you know if they're visiting chatrooms, which ones, and what goes on in those chatrooms.

Chatrooms can be misused. There isn't a chatroom on the Internet where you won't find at least one adult sexual predator. It's a fact of life. They masquerade as kids and teens and make indecent proposals ... often luring children and teen to meet them. These meetings are set up for one reason -- to harm children and teens.

Privacy is important ... but a parents in New York thought their teen daughter was innocently talking on chatline phones and after checking phone bills and internet logs, they learned she had run away to meet an adult male who she had been talking with. Luckily they were able to find her but they couldn't undo the harm that their daughter suffered.

Kids and teens need to know that unless they absolutely know the person they are communicating with over the Internet, not to accept everything a person says online at face value. They must understand the online danger they could be in and be alert.

When your children are on the Internet, post Internet safety rules and facts right by their computer.

Mistakes

We all mistype addresses into web browsers and search engines. And our children can too. That mistake can bring us to sites we do not mean to visit.

Stress to your children the importance of typing correct addresses. Discuss rules about ending up on sites that are not appropriate.

Communication

Communicate openly with your child about what they do online. By having an open relationship with your children, you can discuss a range of issues such as the kinds of materials, situations, or people they may mistakenly come across. Keep talks low-key and and discuss all of the situations that could happen on the Internet.

Be honest, open and comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable your child will feel. Openly explain that emailing personal information about themselves to a strange adult on the Internet, or viewing sexually explicit or adult oriented materials are not appropriate and what can happen. By being open and honest, your child won't feel as though they've done something wrong. They should never be afraid of telling you they've visited or emailed someone from these sites.

By discussing these things before they happen, you can prevent your child from being a story in the media.

Kids At Risk

If you find any record of inappropriate conversations or pornographic photos, do not panic!

Talk calmly to your child about your concerns. If you fear your child is truly in trouble or at risk, seek help.

Signs that indicate your children are being abused online:

- If your child becomes secretive about their time online
- Uses computers in other than their own such as at homes of friends, Internet cafes, or libraries
- Uses encryption software
- Downloads files onto discs where you cannot see information
- Displays changes in behavior or acts out sexually
- Becomes withdrawn and loses self-esteem
- If your phone bill or child's cell phone bill is unusually high
- You see unfamiliar phone numbers on your bill (800 numbers do not appear on phone bills)
- Your child disappears while talking on their cell phone

Note: Kids may hesitate to give out their home numbers but will almost always give out their cell phone numbers. Pedophiles will call and send text messages directly to children.

Child Protection Safety Measures

Kids are very computer savvy and can pretty much figure out protective software, security measures, password changes, etc.

If you have computer passwords and PIN numbers, measures should be taken to protect those at all costs.

Sometimes protective software can be disabled. Be sure that it isn't switched off.
Check that security systems and additional internet accounts have not been added to your computer and that previously installed software hasn't been blocked or diverted.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is an electronic form of communication that uses cyber-technology or digital media to hurt, threaten, embarrass, annoy, blackmail or otherwise target another minor.

One reason for such a dramatic increase in cyber-abuse is that it’s just so much easier to be cruel when you don’t have to do lash out vicious insinuations face to face and you can do so anonymously!

Many experts confirm that the psychological effects on our children can be as devastating, and may be even more so than traditional bullying. Research proves that when kids are left unsupervised and without behavior expectations traditional bullying thrives.

A middle-school girl was on vacation and a rumor circulated via text messaging, that she had contracted SARS while on a trip to Toronto. When she returned no one at school would talk to her.

And for an overweight Japanese boy who was changing clothes in the school locker room, his pictures had been emailed to all his friends.

These rumors, threats, gossip and humiliation - are nothing new ... but today bullies are starting to move beyond slam books and whisper campaigns to e-mail, websites, chat rooms, and text messaging.

Websites and screen names allow bullies anonymity if they want it, and it can be difficult to trace.

Now bullies can extend their harassment into their victims' homes and schools.

- Kids should not put up with it. They should tell someone they trust ... their parents or teacher -- someone who can find a way to stop it.

- If kids get upsetting or scary messages, they should document everything by dates, times received and save the emails. This can be reported to the police.

- As careful as kids should be with giving out their mobile phone numbers ...they should be equally careful giving out their email.

Spam

Spam is unsolicited email. It can be annoying and sometimes offensive. Parents should discuss with their kids who they are sending and receiving emails from.

One of the best ways to deal with spam is to not open it and delete it.

Check out merchants privacy policies when purchasing something over the web. When in chat rooms, your child should not allow their personal profile to be published and should not give out their email address ... nor should they ever allow email addresses to be posted on any web site. They should remain as anonymous as possible.

If you have younger children, set up a list of people they can send and receive emails from and block the rest. Ask your Internet Service Provider how to do this.

Firewall and anti-spam software programs are other ways to keep out unwanted emails and spam. You can also set up a spam email address in addition to your regular email address. Give those close to you your private email address and all others the spam email address.

Click here for more of Ross’ articles

Twitter me at http://twitter.com/ProtectChildren

Twitter me at https://twiter.com/STOMPOutBullyng

Ross Ellis is also the Examiner for:

National Parenting Examiner
NY Real Estate

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