Modern kids have never known a time when they couldn’t connect to the entire world using the Internet. They’re probably more at home online than you are. The problem is, there are things on the Internet that you’d rather they didn’t encounter. Sites promoting violence. Sites full of hate. Pornographic sites that promote a skewed notion of human sexuality. You can’t supervise every moment that they’re surfing the Web on a PC, much less on a smartphone or tablet. That’s where parental control software comes in, with the ability to filter out unwanted content, limit screen time, and in some cases monitor social media interactions.
Note that these applications can’t substitute for good communication. If you don’t want your kids to visit certain kinds of sites, talk to them about your concerns. And do take time to convince older kids that you’ll respect their privacy while monitoring their online actions. Otherwise, you can be sure they’ll find ways to evade even the most sophisticated system.
www.NetSmartz.org is parents’ and guardians’ premier, online resource for answering questions about internet safety, computers, and the Web. You can search for answers to all of your questions or “Ask the Experts” to send a new question. Questions are answered by professionals“ the real-life analysts at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
ESTABLISH RULES FOR INTERNET USE
- Talk to your children about what they can and cannot do online
- Be reasonable and set reasonable expectations
- Try to understand their needs, interests and curiosity
- Talk to your children about what personal information is and why they should never give it out
- Don’t post your child’s E-mail address in any directory
SIT DOWN WITH YOUR CHILD & WATCH THESE AMAZING EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS
- After watching the videos, ask your child for their own stories
LEARN EVERYTHING YOU CAN ABOUT THE INTERNET
- Ask your child to show you what’s cool
- Have them show you teen web sites
- Experiment yourself on the internet to learn how to send and receive e-mail, enter chat rooms, and search the web.
CHECK OUT BLOCKING, FILTERING AND RATINGS
- Look for services that rate web sites for content
- Check with your local computer stores about filtering programs and browsers that empower parents to block the types of sites considered to be inappropriate for kids
- Remember, education is a key part of prevention
PUT THE COMPUTER IN A PLACE WHERE THERE CAN BE PARENTAL SUPERVISION
- Don’t allow your child to have unlimited access to the internet behind closed doors
- Make your presence known
REPORT ILLEGAL MATERIAL TO THE CYBER TIP LINE: 800-843-5678
- Child pornography
- A sexual solicitation sent to your child by someone who knows your child is less than 1 years old
- Sexually explicit images sent to your child by someone who knows your child is less than 18 years old
DECODING INTERNET LINGO
PARENTSâ€¦.do you have questions about the internet, internet safety, myspace.com, e-mail or computers in general? Go to NetSmartz 411 for all the answers. Don’t be in the dark about your child’s activities on the internet. Ask NetSmartz 411 for help.
TGIF, RSVP or even ASAP may sound familiar; however as computers have transformed communications a new dialect has emerged: Internet lingo. Acronyms or character symbols called Emoticons (mixing symbols to express emotions or moods) enable teens to communicate with others in a few keystrokes. While often just a convenient and quick means of communication, many teens use these acronyms and symbols to warn their friends when parents might be present and even to discuss drug use in a code that parents can’t decipher.
Instant messages, blog entries and text messages often look like Sanskrit to parents, but decoding this lingo used in digital communications is an important monitoring skill that should not be overlooked. Here is a quick guide to help you translate what teens are saying online and in their cell phone text messages. Keep in mind that, as with street names for drugs, these symbols and acronyms are subject to frequent change, particularly when those who use them suspect that others have figured out what they mean.