RULES, NON-TECHNICAL MEASURES
As technology continues to evolve, as a parent, it is easy to feel left behind. Follow these non technical measures to help you become a cyber-savvy, virtual parent. As you educate yourself about the benefits and risks of the Internet, and as you become active in your kids' online lives, your actions and beliefs will set the tone for your kids' online actions. Teach your kids that the difference between right and wrong is the same on the Internet as it is in real life.
** Keep the lines of communication open: Spend time on the Internet alongside your child and establish an atmosphere of trust: Understanding how children use the Internet will give parents and guardians a better idea of the benefits and risks online and how they can better safeguard their children in the online world. Reward your children for good choices and temper your reactions when they run into dangers.
Teens whose parents have talked to them "a lot" about online safety are less likely to consider meeting face to face with someone they met on the Internet (12% vs. 20%)
** Supervise computer use and other Internet-enabled devices, and keep your child's computer in an open area of your home: Monitor other points of Internet access including your child's cell phone, iPhone, PDA and access they have to computers at school and friend's homes.
Parents say they are more vigilant about where their teen(s) go online if the computer is in a public area of the household.
** Teach your children how to protect personal information posted online and to follow the same rules with respect to the personal information of others:
Personal or Contact Information: Your child's full name, address, phone number, passwords, and financial identity information should only be provided on a secure site and under parental supervision.
Intimate personal information: Private, personal and sensitive information (such as a teen's journal) should not be posted at all and should only be shared in private emails with a trusted personal friend.
Reputation-damaging information or images: Explicit or suggestive pictures, etc. should never be posted or sent.
Event Information: Teach children to avoid all postings about parties, events, or activities where a predator could find them.
Teens whose parents have talked to them "a lot" about Internet safety are more concerned about the risks of sharing personal info online. For instance, 65% of teens whose parents have not talked to them about online safety post information about where they live compared to 48% of teens with more involved parents.
** Be sure your children use privacy settings to restrict access to and limit who can view their profiles: Social networking sites provide a variety of privacy settings that limit who can view the child's profile. By using these privacy tools, parents and guardians may be able to approve which friends from school, clubs, teams, and community groups are able to view a child's profile or blog and block unknown individuals from accessing a child's information. On most social networking websites, you can access and change your child's privacy settings by clicking on "account settings." Remember that no one can detect a disguised predator.
Authorities say teens are finding trouble in the social networking environment where millions of people, can in seconds, find out where they go to school, learn their interests, download their pictures and instantly send them messages.
** Search blog sites children visit to see what information they are posting: To ensure that children are not engaging in risky online behavior, parents and guardians can conduct a simple online search by typing in their child's name, nickname, school, hobbies, grade, or residence to determine information availability. Supervise blogs and be aware of not only what your children are posting, but what other kids are posting about your children. Make sure you, as the parent, are added to your child's friends list. Children should not be allowed to use social networking sites until parents have thoroughly reviewed and approved such sites and only if parent's diligently supervise their child's online activities.
A majority of teens (58%) don't think posting photos or other personal info on social networking sites is unsafe.
** Supervise the types of photos your teen is posting online: Younger children should not post photos. Photos from camera phones, webcams, and videos can be uploaded. These images may pose a risk to children, exposing them to online predators and people they don't know. Even innocent photos can attract a predator. Posting inappropriate photos and videos can lead to damaged reputations and unwanted attention from others.
Teens readily post personal info online. Sixty-four percent post photos or videos of themselves, while more than half (58 percent) post info about where they live. Females are far more likely than male teens to post personal photos or videos of themselves (70 percent vs. 58 percent).
** Discourage the use of webcams: Webcams should only be used under close parental supervision or not at all. Videos should only be sent to trusted friends and family. Never allow a webcam to be used by your child in his/her bedroom or other private areas.
Four percent of all youth Internet users in 2005 said online solicitors asked them for nude or sexually explicit photographs of themselves.
** Know your child's online activities and friends: Be familiar with each of your children's passwords, screen names, and all account information. Regularly ask your children about who they are communicating with online and their activities. Have them provide the identities of every person on their buddy list or anyone they have "befriended" on a social networking site. Be Proactive. Role-play with your child the various dangerous scenarios they could encounter online, and remind them that the people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Children should be cautioned to only communicate online with people they know in person and who have been approved by you.
Almost one in eight youth ages 8-18 discovered that someone they were communicating with online was an adult pretending to be much younger.
** Instruct your child never to plan a face-to-face meeting: Online 'friends' may not be who they say they are. Children should also be advised to come to you if anyone makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, confused, or asks for any personal or identifiable information or suggests meeting them.
Sixteen percent of teens say they've considered meeting face-to-face with someone they've talked to only online, and 8% of teens say they actually have met in person with someone from the Internet.
** Teach your children to never open, read or respond to messages from a cyberbully: Children do not have to accept any online activity that is meant to intimidate, threaten, tease or harm them or anyone else. Watch out for warnings signs including reluctance to use the computer or go to school, or a change in your child's behavior and mood. Report any offensive or dangerous e-mail, chat or other communications to local law enforcement. Do not delete the evidence.
Overall, 19% of teens report they have been harassed or bullied online, and the incidence of online harassment is higher (23%) among 16 and 17 year-olds. Girls are more likely to be harassed or bullied than boys (21% vs. 17%).
** Establish online rules and an agreement with your children about Internet use at home and outside the home: Remind them that rules for good behavior don't change just because they're on a computer, and that they should talk to you whenever a stranger contacts them online, or whenever they encounter anything that makes them uncomfortable. Post the agreement near the computer. Be willing to sign a parent pledge as well.
Sixty-nine percent of teens regularly receive personal messages online from people they don't know and most of them don't tell a trusted adult about it.
Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; Enough is Enough