Are you the parent of a child who has recently started using the internet or are you the parent of a child who will soon start? When a child reaches about junior high school, they rely on the internet to do many school research projects. However, as a parent, it is important to remember that research isn’t all that the internet is used for. Many children and teens use the internet as an easy way to communicate with their friends or even to make new friends.
The ability to use the internet to make new friends and communicate with current friends sounds pretty neat at first glance, but it is important to take a closer look. Did you know that sexual predators often use the internet to target unsuspecting children and teenagers? Anyone can hide behind a computer and create a new identity. That is why it is important that you, as a parent, set rules for your child when they use the internet.
For starters, let your child know that they cannot give out their personal information online. There is absolutely no reason why they should give anyone their address or phone number online. Make sure that your child knows that just because the person they are talking to online claims to be a 16 year old boy or girl, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are.
It is also important to prevent your child from posting personal pictures or videos of themselves online. Unfortunately, this is something that many children do. Visit MySpace.com, which is a popular social networking website. You will soon see that just about every member, even children and teenagers, post pictures of themselves online. This can be dangerous, especially when other information, like a city or town or school, is divulged. If your child wants to post pictures or videos online, be sure to at least review them yourself first.
Make sure your child knows that they are not allowed to meet, in person, with anyone who they meet online. This is important, as this is how many children and teenagers fall victim to internet predators and sexual predators. Yes, the person who they are talking to on the computer may be who they say they are, but are you willing to take that chance? If an in person meeting does take place and you know about it, attend with your child. Let multiple people know where you are going and who you are meeting with. Be sure to do so in a public place.
It is also important that you set rules for the use of internet chat rooms and social networking websites. For starters, if you don’t want your child to use these things, don’t let them. Monitor your child if use if they do. For example, make sure you are in the room if your child is using an internet chat room. As for social networking websites, make your child set their profile to private. You will also want to regularly check it yourself to make sure that personal information, like your home phone number or home address, isn’t posted.
One problem that many parents face is checking up on their children online. It is no secret that most children know their way around a computer nowadays. You cannot check the internet history of your computer, which tells you which websites have been visited, if your child clears it on a daily basis. That is why you should establish rules on this and other similar practices.
The above mentioned rules should help to prevent your child from running into problems online, but you honestly never know. Make sure that your child knows to come to you immediately if they receive threatening, harassing, or sexual messages online. Make sure they also know to show you the message or to save it for your viewing, as opposed to just deleting it from the screen. Protection may be available for you by way of your local police department.
Finally, make sure that your child knows that all of the rules you set concerning internet use apply to all computer use, not just on the computer at home.