Internet Safety
An Article written by Ruth
(reprinted with permission from A Child's Place)

The Internet is a wonderous information highway, but it is not without its pitfalls. People use this media for the sharing of information that you may not want your family exposed to. Sites with pornography, inappropriate jokes and language, those that promote hate and racism, etc. are rampant. How can you allow your child to access the Internet and the vast amount of resources available without being exposed to this type of information? Although nothing is fool proof, you can take precautions to ensure your child's Internet safety. These Internet saftey rules are a good place to start. Maintain open communication with your child regarding what they are reading and seeing on the Net and remember that filters and other tools may be helpful, but they are not a substitute for talking to your children and being there monitoring your child's online activities.

Put your computer in a well used area. With your computer in a well used area, you can monitor what your child is doing online and the sites they are visiting. If your child has a computer in their room, do not have it set up with internet access.

Learn about the Internet yourself. Knowledge is power and the more you know about what is out there, the better equipped you will be to assist your children with guidelines to safe Internet use.

Surf along with your children. Search engines are wonderful resource tools and invaluable when trying to find something you need on the net. Unfortunately, an innocent search can bring about some very undesireable sites. If you are there when your children are searching, you can bookmark the pages that your child will need to access to. This way, children can go back to the sites they need as often as necessary without you having to sit right there while they surf.

Bookmark sites. Set up folders for family friendly sites that your child can go to on their own. There are a lot of great sites for your children to explore no matter where their interests lie.

Explore filtering tools available. There are many software packages available so do your homework and if this is something you would like to add to your computer, choose the one that's right for you.

Never give out personal information. The most important online safety rule you can teach your children is to protect their personal privacy. They should never give out their real name, e-mail address, street address, phone number, school, or photograph without your permission. This applies to all internet environments that they should come across including but not exclusively: chat rooms, web sites, guestbooks, messengers (ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, etc), and forums.

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