Staying Safe on The Internet

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The Internet is a wonderful resource for adults and children alike. Whether you’re on-line for work or play, Internet safety is a must. Although adults know that the Internet can sometimes be unsafe, children may not. It’s important that parents are educated and know all the dangers that come along with exploring the World Wide Web so they can teach their children about Internet safety.

Internet predators aren’t what most people envision them to be. They aren’t 50 year old men that are overweight and extremely unattractive. Instead they are as young as 18 years old trying to prey on innocent children. They disguise themselves by using a different name, age, and physical appearance so that they can lure children into their web of deception.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited children found (in 2006) that youth Internet users, over a period of five years increased in encountering unwanted sexual material from 25% to 34%. On-line harassment went from 6 to 9%, and 4% of all youth Internet users said that on-line solicitors asked them for nude pictures of themselves. In addition to this, one third of child solicitations were aggressive, which means that the predator made an attempt to contact the child off-line.

The average household has at least one computer but some families have 2 PC’s, with one of them located in a child’s bedroom. Now this sounds harmless, but it’s important to monitor a child’s use of the Internet. You must see what they are doing, what sites they are visiting, and who (if anyone) they are talking to, so putting the computer in a common area will allow you to supervise your children at all times. Yes, they may not like the idea of having their computer in the family room and will no longer have their privacy, but their safety is more important than anything.

Chat rooms and social sites are popular with teens and are a great way to communicate with friends and make new ones on-line. But many of the sites have content that is geared towards adults; not children. They may not contain material of a pornographic nature, but it definitely can give children access to things that you may not want them to have access to. However, if you do allow your child to use a social site, make sure they aren’t giving out personal information such as their name, address, phone number, or passwords. Additionally, when creating their profile don’t allow them to post pictures of themselves because once they are on the Internet they are no longer private, and they can be used by anyone.

Because the Internet is so popular and kids can’t live without it, they can spend hours on-line, so parents should allocate the day, time of day, and length of time that they are allowed to be on-line. When instituting this rule, it’s important to be consistent and not change the plan unless it can’t be avoided.

While surfing the net, parents will find that there is software available that can assist in keeping their kids safe while being on the Internet. Some packages include email, Internet, and news group filters, and some will block pornography and chat. They can be expensive but you cannot put a price tag on a child’s innocence.

Having the tools to help you teach your children the dangers of Internet predators will make it easier to keep them safe on-line. With the alarming child solicitation statistics, it’s imperative that parents ensure their children’s safety so that those numbers do not increase.

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