CYBERSAFETY: PROTECTING YOUR KIDS AND TEENS ONLINE
From the PA Attorney General's Office
COMMUNICATION: THE FIRST STEP
While children physically may be alone in a room using the computer, once someone is logged onto the Internet, he or she is no longer alone. Talk to your child about the potential dangers of the Internet such as exposure to inappropriate material, sexual solicitation, harassment and bullying. Encourage your children to confide in you if anything has made them feel uncomfortable. Often children and teens are afraid to tell a parent for fear that their Internet use will be taken away. The best way to get your child to discuss a potential problem with you is to be proactive and talk about online dangers before a problem arises.
More importantly - Be a parent . . .
- Keep your computer in a common area accessible to everyone in the home (i.e. den, family room, kitchen)
- Regularly monitor your children when they're online and set time limits
- Install filtering, tracking and blocking software to monitor what your children are doing online
- Adjust the parental controls offered by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to limit your child's access to inappropriate material
- Check you computer's Internet history to see what sites your child visits
Don't rely on software to be your babysitter, talk and listen to your child.
ONLINE SAFETY: PREPARE A PLAN
- Establish rules for Internet use and post them near the computer
- Help you child choose his or her screen name (avoid using any suggestive or vital information that could be used to exploit your child)
- Advise your child to NEVER:
- Agree to meet face to face with someone they've met online
- Provide their name, phone number, address, school name, parent's name or any other personal information
- Transmit a picture of themselves or others (current technology allows for computer morphing where photographs can be imposed onto other photographs)
- Teach your child about the dangers of online profiles on social networking sites and blogging as child sexual predators use these on the Internet to target potential victims.
KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS
(source: Federal Bureau of Investigation)
Your child might be at risk if he or she:
- Spends large amounts of time online, especially late at night
- Turns off computer quickly when you come into the room or becomes upset when you ask to see what they are doing online
- Receives phone calls from adults you don't know or is making long distance calls
- Receives mail or gifts from people you don't know
- Uses an online account belonging to someone else
As a parent, learn as much as you can about the Internet (i.e. chatrooms, social networking sites, Web sites and news groups), especially from your children. Ask them to show you the places they visit online. This is a great way to keep the lines of communication open. You also can visit the parent resource area on the Attorney General's Web site at www.attorneygeneral.gov to learn more about Internet safety and access resources to help you keep your kids safe online.
Through the Attorney General's Internet safety program Operation SAFE SURF, an informative DVD was created for adults to help them better understand the importance of Internet safety. The DVD features victim stories and gives a portrait of an online predator. It also presents information on how and why kids should protect themselves online. Visit the Web site to order your free copy. There are also resources for kids.
REPORT: If your child has been solicited online:
DO NOT continue the chat
IMMEDIATELY contact your local police or the OAG Child Predator Unit at 1-800-385-1044 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Modified on December 13, 2016