Keeping children safe online is challenging today and it will continue to be challenging. Parents need to be aware of the dangers presented to children on a daily basis and they need to monitor their online activities. There are many great, entertaining sites for children but as we all know there are many sites that are not optimal for children. Porn sites, gambling sites, chat rooms are the obvious dangers. We are also concerned about some of the less obvious dangers.

An open blog site like Tumblr has a broad range of suggestive material that anyone can access. Various video sites like Daily Motion have a theoretical age restriction but a nine year just has to click the right (actually wrong) button and they are treated like an adult. A child will have access to again, a broad range of suggestive material. There are a multitude of pseudo news sites that advise visitors to click for “Hot Pictures of…“That will include multiple variations on stages of undress, etc. One has to wonder what message this sends children including body image, self image and conflict resolution. There are easy to access gaming sites filled with violent games and then of course there are various portals where children can watch “R rated TV shows.

Keep in mind that the definition of online also includes mobile devices. As I’m sure you have figured out it is a lot easier to monitor activities on a desktop or notebook than a mobile device. Of course, the worst danger is online predators and we dedicated an entire page to that topic (http://lambertchildsafety.org/online-child-predators).

Again, the message is to monitor what your children are looking at.
Here are some rules for your children to follow, courtesy of the Child Rescue Network
(http://www.ChildRescueNetwork.org )

Children’s Rules for Online Safety
Never allow your child to have a computer with Internet access in their bedroom or any area that is private. Move it into the family room or someplace where you can easily see the activity.

  • Set time restraints. Do not allow your child to spend hour after hour online.
  • Check history and consider installing tracking software as well as parental controls. If your child is “wiping” the history every time, then you should find out why.
  • Spend time with your child online. This does so many things including giving you quality time with your child. Explore together!
  • Teach your kids that when they come across any material that makes them feel uncomfortable, scared, or confused to immediately tell you or another trusted adult.
  • Teach your kids to never open emails from people they do not know in person.
  • Teach kids to never reveal any personal information and to immediately tell you or a trusted adult if someone ever makes them feel uncomfortable or starts communicating in a sexually explicit manner.
  • On social networks like Facebook, make sure the privacy settings are on to limit contact to only those on your child’s “friends” list and those should be people the child actually knows in person.
  • Make sure your child understands that anything that gets posted online will always be out there and can NEVER be completely deleted. A suggestive picture to a boyfriend could end up anywhere and everywhere. All pictures should be cleared by you before posting.
  • Make sure your child understands that he or she should, under no circumstances, ever meet in person someone they met online without you being present.”

Your children should never give out personal information including; address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number without parents’ permission. Under no circumstance should they give out their Social Security number or any credit card numbers. Passwords should be a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. If your child uses chat rooms they need to use a nickname that’s different from their screen name.

If your child tells you that they were involved in a chat room conversation that made them feel uncomfortable or in danger for any reason report the incident. You can also report it to the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — they have a form for reporting this type of incident called the Cyber Tip Line.  They will forward that info to law enforcement officials for investigation. You might also consider signing an online safety contract with your child. Click to download one provided by Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI can be found at http://www.fosi.org).

Zone Alarm a software security firm created an outstanding infographic for Child Safety on Social Media. Please click the “Infographic” tab at the top of the page. After you look at the infographic please return to the top of the page and click the “/strong> Video” tab to watch this excellent video produced by Google.

The following Infographic was created by Zone Alarm by Check Point

zone-alarm-how-to-keep-kids-safe-on-social-media-600px

 

Please return to the top of the page and click the “Video” tab to watch Google’s excellent video, Google Parents Child Safety Online.

 Google Parents Child Safety Online Video