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Teenangels / Internet Safety / Online Safety Tips for Parents

Online Safety Tips for Parents

1. Make sure that your child does not spend an excessive amount of time online/on the computer. Use your own discretion when setting guidelines. It is impossible to provide an exact time limit for use of the Internet. Based on school days vs. weekends, age of child, and use for the Internet, time limits will vary. An average of one to two hours per day is probably most appropriate.

However, there are always exceptions. Use your judgment in deciding what is best for your child.

2. People, not computers, should be your child's best friends and companions. Help them find a balance between computing and other activities.

3. Keep the computer in the family room, kitchen, or living room, not in your child's bedroom. Check the screen from time to time to make sure that they are viewing appropriate material. However, you should try building trust with your child, hoping that they have the good judgment to know right from wrong.

4. Learn enough about computers so that you can enjoy them together with your kids. (Your children may be the most affordable computer specialist you can persuade to do house calls.) Don't be afraid to learn something from your kids. However, you are the parent and you must also teach your child. It is a two-way street. Know your child's experience with the computer, and exactly how extensive their knowledge of the Internet is. You'd be surprised at how much they know and how much they can teach you.

5. Be aware of the sites your children visit, and the chat rooms they go into. As they get older, trust should build. Encourage discussions between you and your child about what they enjoy online. Always be open. Take time and visit some of these sites that they enjoy (if the children are younger).

6. Make sure that your children feel comfortable coming to you with questions. When things go wrong, don't overreact. Let them know that it's not their fault. Educate yourself on what to do when things do go wrong.

7. IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, is a chat program that is very different from America Online. IRC has no terms of services like AOL, so people can talk about whatever they want and are generally not restricted. This is good and bad. It is good because its users can speak freely about whatever they want. It is bad because your children are not protected from obscenity and pedophiles. An AOL user could have their membership suspended or terminated for using obscene language, flaming, or stalking, but an IRC user could not. Some channels on IRC have channel rules, but this is the exception. That's why it is not recommended that parents let their children use IRC unless they are directly supervised.

8. Remember to monitor your children's compliance with your rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. Be clear about your rules. Once you have discussed them with your children, you may want to post them on the computer or in another place near the computer where they can read them while they surf. It will help them remember.

9. Get to know your child's "online friends" just as you get to know all of their other friends. Ask about who is on their buddy list and whom they talk to most frequently. This way you get a feel for whom they are talking to.

10. Warn your children that people are not always what they seem to be. Discuss this with them and be open. Parents and children can both be teachers. By having open discussions about safety, dangers, advantages, and disadvantages, you and your child can learn from each other.

11. Teach your children to exercise good judgment in cyberspace, just as they do off-line. It is just like taking your child to their first day of school. You can't always be there with them. But you can hold their hand along the way. The same applies online. "Hold their hand" by becoming educated, being open, building trust, and, most important, learning to let go.

12. Don't deprive your child of the Internet. Acknowledge the benefits of the Internet and review these advantages with your child. It used to be that a child with a computer and the Internet had a great advantage over those without these tools. However, as technology has become dominant, those without are now at a disadvantage.

13. To prevent your computer's hard drive from getting damaged, you should purchase or download antivirus programs frequently. Viruses come out practically every day, so we recommend you update your antivirus programs as often as possible. Some good programs are McAfee and Norton. Remember that a parent is not a bad parent because they do not know everything about computers, but they can become a better parent by keeping the lines of communication open, and sometimes this involves learning from their child.

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