The following tips have been offered by a variety of experts on Internet safety. Thanks to input from the following government agencies and organizations: the FBI, the American Library Association, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the SAFECO Corporation, and the Internet and Your Child.
- Communicate. Talk to your child about the potential hazards of the Internet. Regularly ask them to show you the web sites they visit. Get to know their on-line friends just as you would their regular friends.
- Keep the Computer in a Central Room. It's harder to keep a secret when parents can regularly see what their child is doing online.
- Use Parental Controls and/or Blocking Software. Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) provide graduated levels of parental controls that block access to certain adult-oriented sites. Many software packages on the market are also effective.
- Maintain Access to Your Child's Account and Randomly Check E-mail. At first, many parents think this type of access is invading their child's privacy. Think of it another way. If your child received mail from a stranger, would you ask who they were? Would you allow your child to block access to their bedroom 24/7?
- Become Computer Literate. Books, classes, and software are available that teach you how to navigate the files on your computer's hard drive. Learning a few simple techniques can show you where your child has been on line recently.
- Never Provide Personal Information on the "Member Profiles" forms. Many Internet sites encourage visitors to fill out a profile that contains personal information. Steer away from these profiles. Pedophiles and scam artists often use profiles as a means to find victims.
- Never Send Family Pictures to an Unfamiliar Location. If sent to the wrong location, the photos could be used to target your child.
- Report Inappropriate Online Activities. Contact the police immediately if an adult tries to set up a meeting with your child. Report any on-line child pornography to your on-line service and to the National Center for missing and Exploited Children at: 1-800-843-5678.
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