Protecting Our Kids Online
The internet has sometimes been compared to the wild, wild west. Part of the reason for that is because in those early days of the frontier,
the law was in place to protect citizens of the land but in many cases, it was hard to enforce and criminals ran free to defy laws without fear of being stopped.
When it comes to protecting our kids who go online, in a lot of ways it is the wild west out there. Are there laws on the books to protect our children from being assaulted by internet criminals who would do them harm? Of course there are.
But enforcing those laws and catching every bad person who your child might encounter out there in cyberspace is a task that law enforcement is working hard to conquer.
But they have not conquered it yet. So cyberspace is in many ways, an untamed frontier.
While we don’t want to go to the days of the wild west where vigilantes roamed the land enforcing brutal justice on criminals, we have to do something.
The stories we hear on television and read in the newspapers about children being seduced and abducted right out from under the noses of parents are deeply frightening.
This may be the most troubling thing about cyber criminals who would harm our children. Because the internet is in our homes and even now spreading to the phones and electronic devices of our children, the access of strangers to our kids is virtually unlimited.
Kids can get into chat rooms, use social networking services like MySpace and view all kinds of filth online all while mom and dad are just a few yards away watching the news.
Because of this unprecedented access, new strategies have to be developed for law enforcement to protect our kids but also so we can partner with them to stop these evil people who would use this wonderful tool of the internet for evil purposes.
At a public level, we want to give our police and law enforcement officials all the help we can to crack down on cyber stalkers so the word goes out to such criminals that it is possible to be caught stalking children and if you are caught, it will be a harsh penalty for this kind of crime.
Some have even called for the death penalty for people who stalk children online. How severe we as a society wish to treat crimes of this nature is something for our leaders to help us work through.
But our first line of defense is enabling those we trust to protect us to find and lock up these criminals so these crimes can be stopped.
But at this time, we cannot expect law enforcement to be able to stop anyone from approach our children online. So we as parents share in the responsibility of making sure our homes are secure.
Just as we put locks on the doors even though police are there to stop intruders, we must secure the internet so the chances of our kids becoming victims is minimized. The three strongest locks we can use to protect our families online are…
. Software. We can put software on our computers that will keep our kids out of web sites where these criminals may lurk. These “Net Nanny” programs are inexpensive and effective.
. Knowledge. We must teach our children not to talk to strangers online any more than they would in a public place.
Cyber stalkers are clever so we must be sure our children understand the risk and do not engage anyone they don’t know and trust online.
. Communication. Keeping the lines of communication open with our kids will assure that if they suspect they are being approached by a cyber stalker, they can come to their parents who can then alert the authorities.
It’s a shared effort to stop these criminals from having access to our children. But by working together with law enforcement and keeping those lines of communication open with our own kids,
we can shut down their access to our children and so frustrate their ability to commit crimes against those we love the most. 704
Playing Online: Tips for Parent to Keep Kids Safe
Kids spend a lot of time playing games online. This equates to kids having more chances to meet strangers and less time to do the house chores, school duties, and personal responsibility.
This also means that there is a great chance that they expose themselves to inappropriate venue, unsafe people, and improper games.
Thus, you should do something about it. This doesn’t mean that you ban online games from your kids; you just have to make some modifications on the way you let your kids play games online.
• Learn the basics. As parents, you have the responsibility to your kids and the things that influence them online.
Make sure that you are familiar with the game ratings and the sites that offer online games that are appropriate for the age of your kids. It is better to read reviews from gaming sites to know appropriate games for your kids to play.
• Set rules. This must be done before your kids play for the first time. Discuss with them the specific time, day, and conditions they are allowed to play online; and the dangers of giving out personal information online including their name and the place they live. Make sure that they understand them pretty well.
• Use handle or nicknames. As was mentioned, your kids shouldn’t tell their personal information to anyone online. Encourage them not use their real names online. Aside from the security, using a handle is cool.
• Watch and Suggest. Know what games your kids play and whom they play with. Make sure that the games are appropriate for their age. If they don’t know where to find a gaming site for their age, find one for them.
• Monitor game messages and chats. Most interactive games online allow players to talk with each other. And there are instances where players use offensive words.
Teach your kids to mute the voice message or block their messages from these players. You can also report these players to the administrator of the game through chat, email or feedbacks.
• Play with them. There is no better way to ensuring the safety of your kids online than by sitting and playing with them.
• Be open. Teach your kids to approach you if they encounter bullies online or if they feel uncomfortable with what they experienced during the game. Respond to them immediately.
Mom’s Guide To Keeping Kids Safe Online
Today’s moms need to defend their children against threats in two worlds: those outside the front door and those on the Internet.
Although online resources such as Web logs (or “blogs”) and social-networking sites teach kids how to communicate and express their opinions, they can also expose kids to online predators and scam artists.
Like many moms, Triva Hamilton guided her children from Web site to Web site when they were taking their first steps online. But now that her kids are getting older, “I can’t be in the room every second that the kids are on the computer,” she said.
Instead, Hamilton and her husband have looked to friends and creditable sources, such as www.microsoft.com/athome, to learn more about online threats.
They’ve also created strict rules – including no kids online until after dinner, when Mom and Dad are home.
“Keeping kids safe online is like teaching them how to avoid strangers and other potential threats in the physical world,” said Debby Fry Wilson, director of the Security Engineering and Communications Security Technology Unit at Microsoft Corp.
Microsoft is one of the founding sponsors of staysafe.org, which provides free, noncommercial guidance on how to manage online safety and security issues.
“By setting realistic rules and ensuring kids understand the need for caution, parents can help their children be safer online.”
Tips on the site (www.stay safe.org) include the following:
• Create a contract. Develop an Internet code of conduct, with rules based on the child’s age. All family members should sign the contract.
• Talk. Create an ongoing dialogue about Internet safety. If families frequently talk about good and bad aspects of the Internet, it becomes easier to chat when parents have concerns.
• Protect identities. To avoid attention from criminals, kids should know to never reveal their name, address, age or other information online.
Parents should also help kids create a screen name that protects their identity and ensures that their online profile is blank.
• Teach by example. Parents can help kids learn to avoid destructive programs by maintaining strong security settings on the family PC. They should also use a firewall, an anti-virus product and anti-spyware software.
Internet Safety: How to Monitor Your Kids‘ Use of the Internet
Setting up surveillance cameras is too much, not to mention ineffective, if you want to monitor your kids‘ activity on the internet.
What you need are the right tools and processes to ensure that your kids‘ internet experience is enjoyable and most of all, safe.
There is no better way to monitor your kids than by sitting with them while they use the internet. This way, you are assured that you know the sites they visit and the things they do online.
It is also important to keep the internet-connected computer to open area of your house so that you can easily see what they are doing online.
Having said that, an internet-connected computer inside their room should be avoided since you can’t monitor them if they go online in the middle of the night.
But you can’t sit with them or guard their every move online so there are ways to prevent your kids from accessing websites that aren’t right for their age.
For younger kids particularly those at the age of 2 to 10 years old, it is highly recommended to download or purchase online web browsers for kids.
Specially-made browsers for kids have pre-approved websites that kids can access. These browsers also filter websites which may contain inappropriate information for your kids.
Other cool features of kids‘ browser are fun, colorful, and easy to use interface, safe, educational, and kids-friendly environment.
For pre-teens and teenagers who won’t enjoy the kids-browser, one way to monitor their activity by reviewing the website history.
If they aren’t clever enough, they won’t know how to erase it. If you find websites that are inappropriate for them, block them by adding them to Windows’ “Hosts” file so that the next time they try to access these pages, they will be blocked.
Or, to protect the entry of the unwanted sites from your computer beforehand, setup an internet filtering software such as Cyber Snoop, ChildLock, AOL Parental Controls, BSafe Online, FilterPark, McAfee Internet Security Suite, Net Mop, and more.
It is also encouraged that you, as parents, should teach your children the right way of using the internet. Direct them to good websites about sexuality and health, and not pornography.
Setting up hardware like router with internet filtering capability is another way to prevent your kids from accessing inappropriate websites.
Remember that hardware and software should act only as aids and not replacements to your physical guidance.
3 Steps to Protect the Safety of Your Kids on the Interne
Relying solely the safety of your kids while they use the internet to different security softwares you have installed is a complete misinterpretation of what these softwares are all about.
You must understand that computer programs designed to keep your kids from accessing certain sites aren’t the solution to keep your kids safe.
Because believe it or not, your kids can still visit bad sites even if your computer has all sorts of web filtering systems available. How? By disabling it or finding a way to bypass the current security configuration of your computer.
It is important therefore that you get personally involved with the activity of your kids online. Thus, these are the things you should do:
(this is not to say, however, that web security software isn’t useful; it only says that parents shouldn’t use security features from web security software, search engine, and web browsers as alternatives to actual physical presence and proper guidance.)
1. Educate yourself.
Knowing what you are doing ensures that you get the things you want to achieve. This also goes when it comes to the safety of your kids on the internet.
Make sure that you know what you are taking about so that they will understand what you are saying and in turn, will yield to the result you are expecting.
You can’t simply tell them “do this and don’t do that” without knowing why. So, learn the internet, understand the threat, know where threats can come from, learn the language your kids use online, and go to number 2.
Teach your kids how to safely use the internet. Here are some of those:
• Follow specific guidelines on the proper use of the internet.
• Never give personal information to other people they meet online.
• Never visit bad sites.
• Never use real name online.
• Never become an online bully.
• Never open spam mails. Never download attachments from unknown senders.
• Tell parents right away if they feel uncomfortable with someone or something they encounter online.
Sometimes, it isn’t enough to teach your kids what they should do and what they shouldn’t in one sitting. You need to keep on reminding them about it all the time.
The effective way to do it though isn’t through constant verbal approach but through the paper. Make a list of the things that your kids should and shouldn’t do while using the internet.
This will stand as the rules. Post it near the computer where they can easily see it.
Ways to Teach Your Kids to Protect Their Privacy Online
Kids make a lot of visits to different websites. And if they aren’t careful, they may stumble on sites that ask them about their personal information which can be picked up by other people for malicious intent.
Other than that, some sites even deliberately ask for your kids‘ personal information in the forms of survey and non-existing contests that may lead them to your family’s information.
All these can put your kids and your family in great danger. Thus, helping your kids protect your privacy online is the best way to avoid the possible online threats.
1. Teach your kids that talking to people online is more dangerous than to talking to strangers on the street. Their names, address, school information, telephone number, email address, password, and bank information should be kept from strangers at all times.
2. Online strangers exist in chat rooms. But chat rooms are very in to kids and it is unlikely that they will follow when you tell them not to enter chat rooms.
So the best way to make sure that they are safe when inside chat rooms, tell them not to entertain private chat, stay on public and moderated rooms, and ignore strangers that ask them about their personal information.
This will ensure that the information they will give is secure. Security status can also be seen at the bottom right portion of the browser in the form of a padlock.
4. Tell your kids the risk of giving out personal information on instant messaging. Since instant messaging aren’t encrypted programs, anyone using the right software can pick up their conversation and use your kids‘ personal details against them.
5. If they have personal profiles on the net, make sure they are private and no other people can see it aside from the people they know.
6. Tell them to always use alias and nickname when using the internet. Also teach them to create alternative email so that whenever they are going to fill out online forms, their primary email is still safe.
Alternative email address is also helpful if they are going to use computers outside your home.
7. Instruct them to use an alias when posting blogs online.
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