With the school year coming to an end, most kids are looking for summer entertainment. Some of those children will turn to Internet chat rooms and IMs to pass the time, many without adult supervision.
According to a national poll released by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, adults ranked Internet safety as the number seven most important health risk for teens. To help prepare children and parents for the summer spike in Internet usage Congress has declared June National Internet Safety Month, according to a press release from New Mexico Senator Pete V. Domenici.
Domenici cosponsored the bipartisan legislation. According to the press release, more than 35 million children have Internet access.
The Senate resolution claims that 61 percent of students admit to using the Internet unsafely and 20 percent middle and high school students have met an online friend in real life. This is the third year for Internet Safety Month, and parents are encouraged to share Internet safety information with their children.
According to PC Pandora, the most important thing a parent can do to keep a child safe on the Internet is to talk to them about the dangers. Parents should make sure that children know to ignore emails or IMs from strangers, and children should be encouraged to consult a parent or adult if they see something online that makes them uncomfortable or scared. Parents should set strict boundaries for acceptable Internet usage, and make sure that children understand that rules are in place for their protection, not as punishment.
Parents should also make an effort to be as Web savvy as their children. Children have been raised with computers, and most are highly literate in Web shorthand. Parents should learn how to check a web browser’s history and how to block inappropriate websites. They should also make an effort to learn abbreviations and shorthand that children and teens use in emails and IMs.
Computers should be located in a main room, such as the living or family room. Computers should not be in a child’s room. If your child does have a computer in his or her room, make sure the door stays open when the computer is on, and make frequent checks while your child is online.
Another tip that PC Pandora has for parents is to know where your child goes online. Become familiar with websites that they frequent and know both their email addresses and passwords. Check their IM buddy lists and ask about any name that is unfamiliar.
If your child has a profile on MySpace, make sure that their profile is set to “private.” Check your child’s profile weekly to make sure that no personal information is shared on his or her page. Besides addresses, school names and sports schedules can be used by predators to access children.
Sources: Press Release- Senator Pete V. Domenici
18 Tips for Safe Surfing- PC Pandora