1. Prepare your child for the online world by setting guidelines and keeping track of who they talk to.
2. Get familiar with the Internet by checking out the programs your child uses. Also, think about using blocking software or filtering programs that limit the things your family can do online.
3. Make the computer visible by placing it in a high-traffic area. Computers in the kitchen or family room are easier to keep tabs on than those placed in the child's bedroom.
4. Talk with your children about the dangers they could encounter online. Let them know that you are aware of what goes on and help them to understand the importance of protecting themselves.
5. Know that 65 percent of all predatory incidents happen in chat rooms. Following four basic rules can help keep your kids safe in chat rooms.
- Remember that not all people are who they say they are.
- Do not give out real names, mailing addresses or e-mail addresses.
- Meeting a person in real life who was first met online is not safe.
- If you feel threatened, uncomfortable or someone starts to make sexual or inappropriate comments to you online, log out.
The Internet is a great tool for research, communication, entertainment, and many other uses. Just like any other activity, it also needs to be monitored and it needs to have rules. By having rules for your family when they are online, you can help curb many unforeseen problems. If a problem does occur, talk to your child. Realize that inappropriate sites can be reached unintentionally. If this happens, make it a rule that they notify a parent immediately so that the mistake does not get them into trouble later on.
For more information on Internet safety, contact your local Extension office or check out the following Web site: www.cybertipline.com has a great deal of information regarding Internet safety and internet predators. You can report online predators right from this site.
For a list of many other Internet safety Web sites, check out this address. Included on this page are a number of government Web sites dealing with internet safety for children, teens and adults: http://lib.sdstate.edu/ wight/sdla/surftips.htm
Thank you to Bobbi Larsen, family and consumer sciences Extension educator from Clark County for preparing this column and sharing this information.