There is an amazing amount of material on the internet regarding online safety for children. Most of it is great information but the problem is it’s hard to get through to what you may need. Also is it current? Is it describing child, preteen or teen scenarios? What is the current process to report a possible occurrence of Child Exploitation or interference?
Well you may think its common sense but there are a lot of people out there still struggling to get what they need from the internet. With these things in mind I will address all questions raised above and offer you a clear and concise article of current information that I have written for you through researching the top Child Online Safety information available on the web today.
I offer you this original article written from my personal perspective, an Information Technology expert and the father of 2 children. Our home has been streaming with technology since my kids were born. They have always been exposed to cutting edge technology. With that in mind I hope you find my well researched and outside of the box perspective interesting and informative. Here is some old material to start that is a good foundation.
Let’s start from the beginning with the basics The 5 S.M.A.R.T. points brought to us by the good people at Kids SMART .ORG. These points are directed towards younger children from the age of starting PC use to Preteen
The 5 S.M.A.R.T. Rules for children to go by and parents to be aware of;
SMART – Don’t, give out personal information online to people you are chatting to! For Example: Your full name, email & phone number. Including your home address and photos
MEET – Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parent’s or care giver’s permission. Even then, only when they can be present.
Accepting – accepting emails, IM messages, or opening files pictures and text’s from people you don’t know or trust could lead to problems. They may contain viruses or nasty messages!
Reliable – Information you find on the internet may not be true. Or someone online may be lying about who they are. Make sure you check information before believing it!
Tell – Tell your parent, care giver or trusted adult If someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried. Or if you or someone you know is being bullied online.
Now let’s go over some warning signs that your kids are not safe online, this is more geared to the Pre to late aged teen 2
- They are spending a lot of time online, especially late at night. They are not being upfront with who they are talking to or what they are doing, EG: Online activities
- You find Questionable material on their computer EG: pornography, sadistic imagery, Activism in questionable groups, cults terrorism
- People of older aged than your child that you don’t know call your home. Your child makes and receives calls from numbers unknown to you. Numbers are long distance on your phone’s display or on your bill
- Your child receives packages or gifts from people/friends unknown to you.
- The monitor goes off, or screen changes quickly when you come into the room or near the computer
- Your Child becomes withdrawn from your family.
- You notice your child is using an online account that does not belong to them
What Can Be Done To Avoid Problems and
keep your Kids Safe Online
First things first, the hardest thing some parents face! Open a dialog with your children, talk to them, set guidelines, pay attention to what they are doing online. Let them know the dangers that exist. Get to your children first, doing so greatly reduces the opportunities of a predator ever meeting with your child.
15 points of reference, to begin a family online
- Talk to your kids! Open up discuss the online dangers! Use current and past examples! Yes give them some substance and truths that they can relate to.
- Put rules and boundaries in place that the whole family respects and adheres to
- Spend time with your children, take time to get to know who they speak to and their activities when online
- Your children’s computer should be in an open or family area of the house so activity can be monitored easily
- Personal information and general schedule information should be not given out online.
- To often children send people they do not know pictures and images of themselves online. Sometimes practiced predators are able to manipulate them into sending pornographic or revealing pictures of themselves only to be used to blackmail or lure them into meeting. Children need to know when they upload pictures to the internet that they are there forever.
- Bring up the fact that people are not always who they say they are online and use examples of past criminal behavior if possible
- Entertain the use of security software or Home routers that have the ability to block websites and traffic
- Be open with your children and let them know they have a get out of jail free card if they get into trouble and are worried about you finding out or telling you.
- Show them cool places on the internet to check out. The internet doesn’t have to be dangerous, it can be educational entertaining and fun!
Some extras from an IT guy,
Gaming and Gaming sites
Parents don’t realize this is another world our kids visit, where not using your real name, antagonizing, bullying and bonding with people are the norm and often over looked as a predator active site. These sites children spend extraordinary amounts of time on and chat both through text and with live voice using headsets. This is an activity worthy of close monitoring and limiting time on as well as time of day useage.
Social Media Sites
Social Media, definitely the top priority here. Limit personal information access, most sites have privacy controls. Yor Children should only ever allow friends or people they know to access their information. Make sure they realize never to friend or connect with someone they don’t know, regardless if they say they are friends with someone they know.
Online child the sexual exploitation of children through online efforts is a serious problem. To date approximately one in five children is sexually solicited online.1
Sexual exploitation, if expected in any manner,
here’s what to do;
- Any occurrence of exploitation, sexual directed activities, whether it be suggestive explicit communications or pornography needs to be reported to www.cybertip.ca. Available 24/7, analysts are ready to take calls from people requiring immediate help. If you have concerns regarding a child, report it and let someone of authority handle it. You may have just saved a child from life destroying abuse.
- Discuss it with your child right away and from the heart and do it soothingly
- Call your local police dispatch
- Submit a written complaint, so you have a copy to your ISP
Internet controls are a great tool but not the be all end all security product. With the internet accessible on phones at schools in cafes, libraries and a multitude of places and devices, nothing takes the place of good old fashioned spending time talking and taking an interest in your children and their activities.
1 Quote from David Finkelhor, Kimberly J. Mitchell, and Janis Wolak, 2000, Online victimization: A report on the nation’s youth, Alexandria, Virginia: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, page ix.