Keeping children safe on the Internet is everyone’s job.
Parents need to stay in close touch with their kids as they explore the Internet.
Teachers need to help students use the Internet appropriately and safely.
Community groups, including libraries, after-school programs, and others should help educate the public about safe surfing.
Kids and teens need to learn to take responsibility for their own behavior — with guidance from their families and communities.
It’s not at all uncommon for kids to know more about the Internet and computers than their parents or teachers. If that’s the case in your home or classroom, don’t despair. You can use this as an opportunity to turn the tables by having your child teach you a thing or two about the Internet. Ask her where she likes to go on the Internet and what she thinks you might enjoy on the Net. Get your child to talk with you about what’s good and not so good about his Internet experience. Also, no matter how Web-literate your kid is, you should still provide guidance. You can’t automate good parenting.
A little perspective from a parent who’s been there
Just as adults need to help kids stay safe, they also need to learn not to overreact when they find out a child or teenager has been exposed to inappropriate material or strayed from a rule. Whatever you do, don’t blame or punish your child if he tells you about an uncomfortable online encounter. Your best strategy is to work with him, so you both can learn from what happened and figure out how to keep it from happening again.
The challenges posed by the Internet can be positive. Learning to make good choices on the Internet can serve young people well by helping them to think critically about the choices they will face. Today it’s the Internet; tomorrow it may be deciding whether it’s safe to get into the car of someone a teen meets at a party. Later it will be deciding whether a commercial offer really is “too good to be true” or whether it really makes sense to vote for a certain candidate or follow a spiritual guru. Learning how to make good choices is a skill that will last a lifetime.
Guide to Online Privacy
While kids are often more computer savvy than their parents — they can easily sign up for a game or subscribe to a chat room service — they don’t understand the consequences of revealing personal information to strangers. As a rule, children should not reveal personal information about themselves online without a parent’s permission. This includes their name, email address, postal address, phone number, photo, school address, etc.
Teach your children about some of the risks involved if they reveal their name, address, telephone number and/or email address online and print out some of these general rules for your children to follow as they surf online. You can help children protect their privacy and themselves if you teach them to be privacy-wise. Learn more about how to teach your kids to keep their personal information to themselves online by visiting the kids privacy section of GetNetWise