Illinois School for the
April's Tip for
Child Safety On the Internet in Your Home
For the most part, the Internet is a rewarding place for both young children and teens, but the potential risks to their privacy and personal safety are real. While surfing the Web, your child may stumble upon disturbing information or images, or they may innocently accept or share files that could expose your child or your family to Internet thieves or open a door for malicious software that could damage, delete, or copy your data. They may encounter "cyberbullies" who try to embarrass or intimidate them. Even worse, your child may unknowingly communicate with child predators, who use the Internet to befriend vulnerable children by pretending to be another child or a trustworthy adult and then try to persuade them to meet in person.
ISVI takes child Internet protection very seriously. At the beginning of every school year, each parent is given a copy of the Parent/Student Handbook. In this school reference book (page 20) is the section on "Computers, Electronic Mail and Internet" which explains ISVI's policy pertaining to these areas. In this handbook, (Appendix A), are the specific guidelines, rules, infractions and consequences for students while using school computer technologies. Additionally, at the beginning of every school year, all students and their parents sign a "Student Technology Use Agreement". If you are a parent of an ISVI student and have not yet read these sections of your handbook, we encourage you to do so. If you wish to receive a copy of the Parent Student Handbook, please contact ISVI's superintendent who will provide you a copy.
ISVI protects students' Internet and e-mail usage with two highly-rated Internet and E-mail filtering software programs that also allow for close monitoring on a 24-hours basis. But this "Technology Tip for Parents" is to offer information pertaining to your child's Internet protection while they may be on a computer in your home.
Protection from child Internet monitoring & filtering software can help you create a safer environment, but being aware of the risks and talking openly with your child about their Internet safety are the most important things you can do to keep your family safer online.
Initially, it is important to remember there is no such thing as privacy. One of the first things to understand is that being online is the same as being in public. While using the Internet at home may feel safe and secure, there are very real privacy issues. Personal information can be obtained easily when children create "member profiles" with Internet service providers, on a Web site or in a chat room. "Cookies" allow outside sources to see inside one's home computer. This information can be misused in a variety of ways, including marketing directed at children and by child predators.
Inappropriate Web Sites
In addition to pornography, there are many other inappropriate sites, including those that promote anorexia or Bulimia, racism or misinformation on important health issues such as birth control and immunizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 1 million to 2 million teens may have a serious gambling problem. There now are more than 2,000 online casinos.
In 2004, more than 700 kids were abducted by someone they met over the Internet. Those most frequently involved are in the 12- to 17-year-old age group, especially girls. These contacts often are initiated through chat rooms or instant messaging, with contact continuing via E-mail. While the majority of perpetrators were male, women also can be involved. One striking finding is that nearly 50% of those doing the solicitation were under the age of 18.
In talking about Internet use, we need to broaden our advice to "be careful and behave."
While reliable statistics on Internet bullying are not available, estimates range from 6% of U.S. kids having been bullied in this way in 2000 to as high as 25% more recently in Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand.
While there is obvious need for concern, there are also things parents and others can do to help the situation. Parents need to learn about computers, understanding that their children often know more about such technology than they do. Children should be supervised whenever using a computer, especially when on the Internet. It is best to keep computers in a public place in the home and never in a child's room where a door can be closed.
There should be time allowances that are strictly adhered to for Internet use. A recommended rule of thumb is no more than two hours daily. Parents also need to know how to trace what web sites have been visited and should check frequently. Software that enables detailed tracking of these sites is available for home computers and are reasonably priced.
Parents also can consider filtering devices to control computer visits. These products can restrict Internet travels to chosen sites or can be used to block unwanted sites or materials. While they can be helpful, there are some limitations. For example, they block indiscriminately, prohibiting access to appropriate sites that contain a blocked word, such as Klan on a civil rights site or breast on a health site. Also, they are not good teaching tools and do not replace parental involvement. A rating of some of these filtering software packages is provided at this link. ( )
Older children and teens are likely to use computers outside the home or even on cell phones to connect to the Internet. Parents need to be sure their child understands the possible dangers and practice the following basic safety rules:
Keep identity private, don't share personal
Keep communication open. Encourage your child to talk to you without fear of punishment about what they read and see on the Internet.
Place the computer in a common room, not a child's bedroom or other out-of-the-way location.
Set clear rules for Internet usage. Children of any age need their parents to establish clear guidelines about Internet use. Establish a set of rules that you and your child can agree on. Then post the rules above the computer or in another common place.
Keep personal data private. Teach your children not to share personal information in E-mail messages, chat rooms, message boards, blogs, social networking sites, or other places online.
Use technology to help reduce risks. Use computer safety tools as a companion to your parental guidance. Internet filtering software can help automate limitations on content and contact.
Age-based Guidelines & Other Useful Internet Safety Tips
Credits & References
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