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Keeping Your Kids Safe Online
Do you know what your kids are up to online? TheInternet offers an exciting world of benefits for today'stech-savvy children. However, parents need to recognizepotential threats in cyberspace and teach their kids aboutonline safety. While security software can help parentsrestrict how kids interact with the Web, it's still importantto take an active role in your children's Internet activitiesand show them how to avoid possible dangers.
Supervise your children until age 10. Sit withthem when they are online-answer their questions andencourage your family to act as role models for young childrenwho are just starting to use the Internet.Use Internet monitoring software forchildren age 11-14. With kids who are moreexperienced with technology, use software to control access towebsites, and report Internet activities. Talk to your kids aboutguarding personal information and explain why they shouldn'tgive it over the Internet.Remind older teens about online safety. Beaware of the websites they frequent, and keep familycommunication as open about computers as you can. Teachthem about responsible, ethical online behavior-talk to themabout their online friends and activities, just as you would in the"real world."Get security software that can track online activityand restrict personal information from being sent via theInternet. Your online service provider provides tools that will letyou control your kids' access to adult material and help protectthem from Internet predators. You can also purchase softwareto block viruses, hackers, and spyware, as well as filteroffensive content, pictures, and websites.
Teach your kids about the dangers of email"phishing." "Phishing" is a common email scamdesigned to fool people into disclosing personal informationsuch as credit card numbers, social security numbers, andaccount passwords. Tell your kids to ignore emails andmessages from people they don't know. They should neveropen attachments they are not expecting.Check out video games. Many video games andgaming systems allow kids to go online and interact withfriends as well as strangers. Make sure you know exactly whoyour children are playing with.Monitor cell phones. If your child has a cell phone,you should monitor it, just as you would with the Internet.Wireless carriers offer parental controls, which enable parentsto control usage and filter content on their child's phone.
Stop your child from entering private chatrooms. Posting messages to chat rooms can reveal theiremail address to others. Make sure they understand thatpeople can lie about who they are. Children should only usemonitored chat rooms, with a screen name that doesn't givetheir true identity-and they should never agree to meetsomeone they met online in person.
Ultimately, you need to take steps to protect yourchildren online, just as you would in the real world. Nooption is going to guarantee that they'll be kept awayfrom 100% of the risks on the Internet. When youestablish rules and teach your kids how to use the Internetsafely and responsibly, you'll minimize the risk of thembeing exposed to scams, predators, and inappropriatematerial. Ultimately, the best protection is you!
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