School will soon be out and the kids in our community will be on summer break. Although their days of alarm clocks and schedules will be over for a few weeks, they will now have more time available for surfing the Internet. While the Internet is an amazing part of our culture and society, the need to protect our children remains. Below you will find some helpful tips for you to discuss with your children regarding Internet safety.
Personal Information. Don’t give out personal information without your parents’ permission. This means you should not share your last name, home address, school name, or telephone number. Remember, just because someone asks for information about you does not mean you have to tell them anything about yourself!
Screen Name. When creating your screen name, do not include personal information like your last name or date of birth.
Passwords. Don’t share your password with anyone but your parents. When you use a public computer make sure you logout of the accounts you’ve accessed before leaving the terminal.
Photos. Don’t post photos or videos online without getting your parents’ permission.
Online Friends. Don’t agree to meet an online friend unless you have your parents’ permission. Unfortunately, sometimes people pretend to be people they aren’t. Remember that not everything you read online is true.
Online Ads. Don’t buy anything online without talking to your parents first. Some ads may try to trick you by offering free things or telling you that you have won something as a way of collecting your personal information.
Downloading. Talk to your parents before you open an email attachment or download software. Attachments sometimes contain viruses. Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know.
Bullying. Don’t send or respond to mean or insulting messages. Tell your parents if you receive one. If something happens online that makes you feel uncomfortable, talk to your parents or to a teacher at school.
Social Networking. Many social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Second Life and MySpace) and blog hosting websites have minimum age requirements to signup. These requirements are there to protect you!
For more tips on Internet safety, visit the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They have a library of videos on a variety of Internet safety topics. Each video is geared towards a specific age group. http://www.netsmartz.org/NetSmartzKids