Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Protect young web surfers from unwanted attention

Guidelines for young web surfers
Help your child choose a screen name or e-mail address that does not reveal anything personal about the child — age, sex, hobbies, what school they go to, where they live and like to play, etc. And of course, avoid suggestive names such as "happygirl" which could attract predators.
Keep any computers connected to the Internet out of kids' rooms and put them in a central location, such as the family room.

Talk with your child often about what they do online and who they talk to. Better yet, join your children as they surf the Internet. Taking an interest in what your child or teen does online doesn't necessarily mean a lack of trust: just as you're interested in their "real world" friends, you might want to show an interest in their "net friends".

Be sure to use one of the available software products designed to protect your computer from the online dangers. As every family is different, no one software or technology solution is going to suit everyone.

Here are a few suggestions for how you might use technology to help protect your kids as they navigate the Internet:

Install antivirus and anti-malware software on your computer and keep it up to date. We can help you take this step to protect your computer. For further guidance, click here.

Use parental control software to check into your kids' Internet usage. This may give you a better idea of the kinds of choices they're making online. Here's how to do this.

And finally, some useful and fun ways to use the Net together as parent and child:
Get together as a family and plan some clear Net surfing rules that everyone needs to follow at your place (kids’ friends included). You can use the rules, curfews and guidelines template as a basis for your Net rules – print the template out once you’re done and display it next to the computer for all to read.

If you use the computer alongside your children sometimes, it not only gives you a chance to see what sites they visit, but also spend fun time with your kids. They’ll feel very important when they help you to update the family calendar or event calendar, and will love planning a baby announcement if there’s another little one arriving soon. While you’re on a roll, they might just be persuaded to work on their homework planner, too!

The responsibilities that come along with parenthood are endless. There's feeding, washing and reading the same book about bunnies over and over to a child. Plus, making enough money to provide food, shelter and coveted designer jeans; changing nappies(or finding someone else who will); and surviving 100 years of back-chat.

There is no foolproof way to protect your children online but as in the real world, there are precautions that families can take in the online world to reduce the chances of children encountering dangerous or unsuitable material, and ensure they have a safe and fun experience surfing the web.

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