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"This Is Parkway" Digital Magazine


Internet Safety Tips for Parents and Children

Sticks ‘n stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me….
That was the playground chant of our youth, but in today’s world of rapidly changing technology, we all are reading and hearing more words than ever and sometimes they do hurt. Those words might take the form of e-mail, text messages, blogs, profiles on a social networking site or live chats online and in gaming systems.
The United States Senate has declared June as Internet Safety Month.  School is out and children have more free time, often with less supervision than normal.  Take this time to sit down with your children and discuss your family rules for Internet use. Some helpful suggestions and topics to discuss include:
For Parents - 
  • It is never too early to discuss Internet Safety.
  • Use parental controls provided by your Internet Service Provider for younger children.
  • Discuss the sites they visit and games they play.
  • Know how to check the history on your computer.
  • Ask your children if anyone has ever made them feel uncomfortable or threatened online.  And if they tell you, don’t threaten to take away computer privileges or make them feel it is their fault.
  • Teach your children about privacy – never to divulge personal information.
  • Encourage them to spend more time offline with their friends.
  • Encourage your children to tell you if they or someone they know are being bullied online.
  • Let your children teach you about the Internet.
  • Discuss the rules, privacy settings and age limits of social networking sites.
  • Know how to report problems or abuse to your ISP, websites, school, and in more severe cases to local law enforcement agencies and the CyberTipline (1-800-The Lost or www.cybertipline.org).
  • Keep communicating.
For Children -       
  • Sharing your passwords with others allows them to “become you” and you give up control of your reputation.
  • Be sure your password or user name doesn’t give away your identity.
  • Never pretend to be someone else.
  • Don’t open e-mails or IMs from people you don’t know in real life.
  • Do not meet someone offline that you have only met online.
  • Be careful how you represent yourself online through images and words.
  • Be careful that you don’t share information inadvertently (e.g., a picture of your new car in front of your house can tell a predator where you live).
  • Do not download content from unknown or unreliable sources.
  • Never say mean or hurtful things about others online.
  • Never take part in, forward or pass on images or words that could hurt someone else’s name or reputation.
  • Cut off contact with anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable online or presses you for personal information.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who tries to isolate you from your family or friends or threatens to “tell your parents” if you don’t keep their secrets.
  • Tell a trusted adult if anything online makes you feel bad.
For more helpful tips and resources consult the following:
www.inobtr.org – Missouri’s public awareness initiative to help keep children safe online.
www.icacmo.org – Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force of Missouri, a law enforcement and community resource for the investigation and prevention of online crimes.
www.cybertipline.com – (1-800-THE-LOST) The 911 of the Internet, the resource to report cybercrimes.
www.ikeepsafe.org – I Keep Safe Foundation’s website uses an animated icon/mascot named Faux Paw the Techno Cat to teach children and parents the importance of protecting personal information and avoiding inappropriate places on the Internet.
http://kaciewoody.homestead.com – The Kacie Woody Foundation, a non-profit corporation dedicated to saving our children.
www.netsmartz.org – NetSmartz is the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) Internet Safety resource and education program targeting children K-12, parents and educators.
www.projectsafechildhood.gov – Project Safe Childhood (PSC) is a nationwide Department of Justice initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.
www.webwisekids.org – Web Wise Kids (WWK) is a non-profit organization specializing in providing easy to use, school approved Internet safety education for youth ages 11-16.
www.isafe.org – I Safe is a non-profit foundation, dedicated to protecting the online experiences of youth everywhere.
www.netsmartz411.org – NetSmartz 411 is an online resource for parents and guardians to ask questions about Internet safety, computers and the web.
Also check out your own Internet Service Provider (ISP – Yahoo, AOL, Earthlink, etc.) parental controls and safety suggestions. Discuss privacy settings with your children if they have a profile on a Social Networking Site (MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, etc). Have them walk you through it so they (and you) can see the dangers and learn how to avoid them.