INTERNET SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS
- Personal Information. Don’t give out personal information without your parents’ permission. This means you should not share your last name, home address, school name, or telephone number. Remember, just because someone asks for information about you does not mean you have to tell them anything about yourself!
- Screen Name. When creating your screen name, do not include personal information like your last name or date of birth.
- Passwords. Don’t share your password with anyone but your parents. When you use a public computer make sure you logout of the accounts you’ve accessed before leaving the terminal.
- Photos. Don’t post photos or videos online without getting your parents’ permission.
- Online Friends. Don’t agree to meet an online friend unless you have your parents’ permission. Unfortunately, sometimes people pretend to be people they aren’t. Remember that not everything you read online is true.
- Online Ads. Don’t buy anything online without talking to your parents first. Some ads may try to trick you by offering free things or telling you that you have won something as a way of collecting your personal information.
- Downloading. Talk to your parents before you open an email attachment or download software. Attachments sometimes contain viruses. Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know.
- Bullying. Don’t send or respond to mean or insulting messages. Tell your parents if you receive one. If something happens online that makes you feel uncomfortable, talk to your parents or to a teacher at school.
- Social Networking. Many social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Second Life and MySpace) and blog hosting websites have minimum age requirements to signup. These requirements are there to protect you!
- Research. Talk to your librarian, teacher or parent about safe and accurate websites for research. The public library offers lots of resources. If you use online information in a school project make sure you explain where you got the information.
INTERNET SAFETY TIPS FOR PARENTS
The computer should be in an open area, not in a child’s room. “You don’t want to spy on your kids or peer over their shoulder, but you want them to know you’re in the room.”
Assure your children that you know you can count on them to use the Internet responsibly. “Kids need to feel they’re trusted.”
Set clear expectations for your child, based on age and maturity. Does your child have a list of websites she needs to stick with when doing her research? Is she allowed to use a search engine to find appropriate sites? Is your child allowed to visit social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace? What sites is she allowed to visit just for fun? Write down the rules and place them next to the computer. Your child’s teacher should be able to advise you on which sites are appropriate for schoolwork and educational fun.
Use filtering software designed to help parents limit the websites children can access. Some programs have monitoring features that can tell you which sites your child visits and can even send you a message letting you know your child is online. (While such programs have come a long way since the early bug-ridden days, they are not a substitute for supervision and communication.)
Tell your child if you are using software to track her online activity. Remind him that you are not spying; you are keeping him safe. Tell him that protecting him is your job as a parent.
Stay involved with your child’s school by remaining in close contact with your child’s teachers and counselors. If trouble is brewing among students online, it probably started at school. Knowing what’s going on at school will increase the chances that you’ll hear about what’s happening online.
A growing concern with kids and the Internet is online bullying. Ask your child specific questions about whether he is being bullied at school or online. Talk about your own experiences in school with bullying, letting him know you know it goes on. Assure him that you won’t try to fix the problem, if it is happening, without talking to him first.
Parents often worry about their child being bullied, but they don’t readily consider that their child could be a bully. Talk to your child about why it is not OK to bully other children, online or in person. “Teach compassion and kindness. From the get-go, they will know that being a bully…doesn’t feel good.”
Tell your child that people who introduce themselves on the Internet are often not who they say they are. Show your child how easy it is to assume another identity online. Don’t assume your child knows everything about the Internet. Kids are naturally trusting.
Instruct your child to never give out personal information online, including her full name, gender, age, school, address, or teams. Teach your child to be generic and anonymous on the Internet.