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Valuable tips to keep your child safe!2/8/2013
Advice on safety issues
Reducing the risk of your child meeting strangers online
Be reasonable and try to set reasonable expectations. Pulling the plug on your child's favorite social site is like pulling the plug on his or her social life. Instead of being protective, it can shut down communication and send kids "underground" where they're more at risk. It's too easy for them to set up free blogs and profiles from anywhere, including friends' houses or even a cell phone.
Talk with your kids about how they use the services. They, not news reports or even experts, are the ones to consult about their social-Web experience. Help them understand basic safety guidelines, such as protecting their privacy (including passwords), not harassing peers, never talking about sex with people they don't know, avoiding in-person meetings with people they 'meet' online, and taking care in what they post because anything people put online can be grabbed, reworked, and used against them.
Support critical thinking and civil behavior - because no laws or parental-control software can protect better than a child's developing good sense about safety and relationships. Research shows that kids who are aggressive and mean online toward peers or strangers are at greater risk of becoming victims themselves. So teach them to be good citizens and friends online as much as offline.
Help your kids use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on their social networking profiles, blogs, and other accounts. Also, talk to your teens about avoiding sex talk online - research shows that teens who don't talk about sex with strangers online are less likely to come in contact with predators.
Stopping them sharing too much personal information
In order to reap the benefits of socializing and making new friends, teens often disclose information about themselves that would typically be part of an acceptable "getting-to-know-you" process offline (name, school, personal interests, etc.). On social network sites, this kind of information is now posted online-sometimes in full public view. In some cases, this information is innocuous, but in other cases, disclosure reaches a level that is troubling. As parents, it is important to monitor the information, photos, blogs and videos your children post or send, to have conversations about privacy and personal security and remind your kids to think before they post. Read more and watch a video on social networking safety.
In a world where anything can be copied, pasted, altered and distributed in the blink of an eye to a vast invisible audience, kids must understand that they hold the key to what kind of reputation they create for themselves. This article and accompanying video helps families with some "rules of the road" as kids grow up in public.
Each time your child fills out a profile without privacy controls, comments on something, posts a video, or texts a picture of themselves to friends, they potentially reveal themselves to the world. Everything our kids do online creates digital footprints that wander and persist. This article helps families rein in their privacy.
Tell your kids why it's important to keep some information private. Social Security numbers, street addresses, phone numbers, and family financial information - like bank account or credit card numbers - should stay in the family. It's too much information for anyone else. Talk to your kids about phishing and help them activate privacy settings on their social networking profiles, blogs, and other accounts. For more information on these topics and to learn more about your rights as a parent under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, read Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online.
How to help stop cyberbullying
There are always three things parents and guardians can do now to help children who are experiencing bullying of any kind:
Note: In extreme situations where a student needs to intervene in an emergency, such as suicide, they do not need to have an exact address. (Teens generally share cell phone numbers, not addresses.) Call 911, and give the cell phone number of the victim and any other details that may help (parents' names, etc.).
If we can help kids understand how much bullying hurts, how in many cases words can hurt you, fewer may cooperate with the cyberbullies. They will think twice before forwarding a hurtful email, or visiting a cyberbullying "vote for the fat girl" site, or allowing others to take videos or cell phone pictures of personal moments or compromising poses of others. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that in the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. We need to teach our children not to stand silently by while others are being tormented. It is crucial that we teach them not to take matters into their own hands; they need to come to us. And if we expect them to trust us, we need to be worthy of that trust.
If given an anonymous method of reporting cyberbullying Web sites, profiles and campaigns, kids can help put an end to cyberbullying entirely. School administration, community groups and even school policing staff can receive these anonymous tips and take action quickly when necessary to shut down the site, profile or stop the cyberbullying itself. They can even let others know that they won't allow cyberbullying. Supporting the victim and making it clear that they won't be used to torment others and that they care about the feelings of others are key.
Reducing their exposure to vulgar language
Just as in any city, there are areas in cyberspace that are not necessarily appropriate for children or teens, and may contain vulgar language.
Options for preventing your child from being exposed to inappropriate material include:
Sites promoting inappropriate behaviors such as eating disorders and drug use
Girls look to the media for role models and when they compare themselves, they necessarily come up short. This lowers self-confidence and self-esteem at a time, developmentally, when kids are vulnerable anyway. Talking to girls about their weight is one of the hardest things parents can do but the constant bombardment of messages about desirable weight and appearance makes this discussion crucial.
Media profoundly influences boys' expectations of what a real body type is. And given that boys often organize around "alpha" leaders, body size and type become huge social organizing principles. This article helps parents talk to boys about body image.
If you're concerned about what your kids might come across or seek out online, there are tools to consider. Keep in mind that while parental controls work well for young children, teens who've been online for years probably won't have much trouble working around them or finding other computers to use. The best way to protect your kids online? Talk to them. When children want important information, most rely on their parents so start the conversation with your kids early. Be upfront about your values and how they apply in an online context.
Malware: What is it and how to make sure your children don't install it
The internet is a very useful tool, but it can be a dangerous place if you don't protect yourself. For criminals and scam-artists, the internet is big business and we're all targets. Attacks can strike anytime your computer is connected to the internet. At worst, these attacks can destroy our computers, drain our accounts and steal our identities.
The good news is that for every scam and attack, there are effective ways to protect yourself while still continuing to enjoy the enormous benefits of the internet. Learning a little bit about some of the threats that are out there can help you enjoy a safer, happier internet experience.
Email Scams "Phishing"
Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses
Spyware and Adware
Parents should teach their kids to not download anything from the internet unless it is from a trusted source and to never click on any links that come anonymously through email.