Protecting Children on the Internet
As a part of our participation with "Hand in Hand with Children: Guiding and Protecting," this article provides ways for parents to become involved in the online activity of their children and give proper instruction and guidelines.
Every day, America's children come in contact with strangers. Luckily, these times are normally supervised. While at the grocery store, walking down the street, or at school, parents or teachers are there to guide children on how to properly respond to the situation. However, there is one meeting place that is harder for parents to chaperone: the Internet.
Chat rooms, instant messaging, and email make it far too easy for children to trust strangers, often promising them an understanding ear or exciting gifts. It's important that guardians talk to their children about the Internet, the good and the bad, to help them make smart decisions.
Here are some important lessons for younger Internet users:
- People they meet on the internet are not to be trusted as friends.
- Immediately tell an adult if they find objectionable content or feel threatened by an online conversation.
- Never meet in person with someone they first communicated with online.
- Never share personal information online without first asking parents.
It's never too early to start the instruction on Internet safety. Kindergarten is a perfect time to introduce these concepts. As your child grows older, reinforce these lessons and elaborate on them with example situations and consequences. This is especially true with teens who use the Internet as a principle communication and research tool. The amount of time spent online, combined with their mobility and limited supervision make them an especially appealling target.
Visit Netsmartz.org to find more helpful hints and download Internet safety pledges for your children. Begin the dialog of smart and safe Internet usage today!