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Protect Your Kids on the Internet

Don't let your child or someone in your family fall prey to the dark side of the Internet world.

The online world is a vast and great place to find information on just about anything. You can purchase products out of the comfort of your home; you can keep up with the latest news and entertainment; children can get help with their homework...the list can go on and on. Unfortunately, the Internet has a dark side that children shouldn't see. There is adult content; hate groups; violence; and other subject matter we should keep our children away from. The other problem is Internet privacy. How do you keep others from finding out who you are, and from finding out personal information about you and your family? How do you protect your child from adults who prey on innocent children? There are some simple steps you could and should take in order to protect your kids and your

Parents, get involved! Spend time with your children while they're online. Learn as much as you can about the online community...chances are your children know more than you! Find out about and implement blocking and filtering software (see links to a few below). This type of software can only help limit access to certain Internet sites...they do not take the place of parental supervision! Learn "Cyber Lingo!" Your kids know it, so should you! Another thing you could do is share your child's email account password so you can safely monitor unsolicited emails and discussions with strangers. Talk to your children about Internet dangers (this includes your teenagers)!

Here are a few tips you can use to make your child's Internet experience as safe as it can be:

1. Never put a computer with Internet access in your child's room! A child's Internet usage should be experienced with parental supervision. Parents don't need to be sitting over a child's shoulder, but the screen should be accessible for whenever a parent needs to view it. This should become the first rule of Internet usage for children and teenagers.

2. Discuss rules with your children about going online. Keep an open relationship with your children about the Internet and in general. The more you discuss things, the more chance that they will go to their parents if they experience any problems online. Children should have a time limit for Internet use; a list of safe places to visit; and parental supervision. If parents choose to use Internet filters (see list below), they should not use these programs as a replacement for parental supervision. The majority of these programs do not keep children from seeing what they shouldn't; nor do they keep them from chatting.

3. Children should never give out any personal information. Tell your children to guard such information as their first and last name, address, phone number, school name, parents' names, friend's names, passwords, or any activity days. Any of this personal information can be used by someone to locate your child. Help your child to learn how to recognize which information they should keep secret.

4. Children should never be allowed to send their photo to anyone online. Teach children that their photo can be used to help locate them, and even if they send their photo to a friend, that email can be intercepted by someone else.

5. Children should never respond to any email or instant message from someone they don't know. If your child receives any message that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should immediately tell a trusted adult. They should never respond to these messages.

6. Parents should learn the identities and email addresses of your children's friends. Parents should know their children's friends both on and offline. A good idea is for parents to share an email address with their children, so they can screen emails before their chidren read them.

7. Children should learn that people online are not always who they say they are. There is no way to check the identity of people online. Tell children that there are people online who try and "trick" children by pretending to act like someone their age, and by liking the same things as they do. Teach children to always share their new online friends with their parents. Children must learn that if someone appears too good to be true, they probably are.

8. Explain to your children that they should never meet anyone in person with whom they've met online. This is an absolute NO! If after the parent checks to make sure a new friend is actually legitimate, the child should still never go alone. They should be accompanied by both of their parents (or 2 other trusted adults), and meet this new friend in a public place.

Here are a just a few of the Filtering Software that's available:

Following are a few sites that contain great safety tips for parents and kids:

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