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By contactus
June 28, 2012
Category: In the News
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For the most part, the Internet is a rewarding place for both kids and teens, but the potential risks to their privacy and personal safety are real. While surfing the Web, your children may stumble upon disturbing information or images, or they may innocently accept or share files that could expose your family to Internet thieves or computer viruses. They may encounter cyber-bullies who try to embarrass or intimidate them. Even worse, your children 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.

Social networking sites are beginning to add additional safeguards for young users. Security software also offers some protection. But being aware of the risks and engaging with your children about safety are the most important things you can do to keep your family safer online.

When you and your family surf the Web it's important to keep the following in mind:

·         Online information is usually not private.

·         People online are not always who they say they are.

·         Anyone can put information online.

·         You can't trust everything you read online.

·         You and your family may unexpectedly and unintentionally find material on the Web that is offensive, obscene, violent, or racist.

Setting the rules

It's important to have a set of rules when your children use the Internet. Make sure your children understand what you consider appropriate and what areas are off limits. Let them know that the rules are for their safety.

The following are tips you can teach your children about online safety:

  • NEVER give out personal information unless a parent says it's OK. This includes your name, address, phone number, age, race, school name or location, or friends' names.
  • NEVER share passwords, even with friends.
  • NEVER meet a friend you only know online in person unless a parent says it's OK. It's best if a parent goes along and to meet in a public place.
  • NEVER respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable or hurt your feelings. Ignore these messages, stop all communication, and tell a parent or another adult you trust right away.

The following is what you can teach your children about how they should act online:

  • NEVER send mean messages online. NEVER say something online that you wouldn't say to someone in person. Bullying is wrong whether it's done in person or online.
  • NEVER use the Internet to make someone look bad. For example, never send messages from another person's e-mail that could get that person into trouble.
  • NEVER plagiarize. It's illegal to copy online information and say that you wrote it.

Time limits

Surfing the Web should not take the place of other important activities, including homework, playing outside, or spending time with friends. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting total screen time in front of a TV or computer to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day for children older than 2 years. An alarm clock or timer can help you keep track of time.

In addition to setting clear rules, you can do the following to create a safer online experience:

  • Surf the Web with your children.
  • Put the computer in a room where you can monitor your children. Computers should never be placed in a room where a door can be closed or a parent excluded.
  • Use tracking software. It's a simple way to keep track of where your children have been on the Web. However, nothing can replace supervision.
  • Install software or services that can filter or block offensive Web sites and material. Be aware, however, that many children are smart enough to find ways around the filters. Also, you may find that filters may be more restrictive than you want.
  • Find out what the Internet use policies are at your child's school or at your library.

CyberTipline

If you or your children come across anything illegal or threatening, you should report it to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's CyberTipline. For more information, call 800/THE-LOST (800/843-5678) or visit the Web site at http://www.cybertipline.com.

Source: The Internet and Your Family (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. 

 

 

 

 

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