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Child safety on the internet continues to be a large and growing problem. The various exposes that are televised seem to be oriented more toward parents than children themselves, so crimes happen every day because children don’t understand the perils and pitfalls of using the internet. Because they are children, trusting and easy to fool, they tend to be vulnerable and easy victims for criminals, kidnappers, child molesters, and even murderers who stalk children on the internet.
The following are some basic rules for child safety on the internet. These are the truly basic rules that everyone should know and observe, but particularly children. We will discuss such advanced topics as geo-tagging in a later article.
These rules are very important for children to memorize and adults couldn’t hurt from taking a lesson in safety on the internet as well. Any of us could become victims.
a) A child should know always to say something when they get uncomfortable feelings while on the internet. To promote child safety on the internet, a child should know to be extremely cautious and always tell his or her parent(s), teacher(s) or guardian(s) if anything seems strange or makes him or her feel uncomfortable while on the internet.
b) Teach your children to give absolutely NO personal information to anyone under any circumstances over the internet. The internet is NOT a place to make friends! The child should know that he or she should never give out any personal information such as his or her address, phone number, name, school, photo, or favorite hangouts. It could become dangerous for a child simply to go to the mall if an internet predator knows that he or she likes to frequent “The Gap” or knows someone who works at the jewelry boutique by the entrance.
c) No contact. This means absolutely NO CHAT ROOMS! Even if they are chat rooms that are a part of a “G” rated website. The problem is that it is impossible for these chat rooms to be monitored properly, so anyone can be there operating under the guise of a child. To repeat, the internet is NOT a place for a child to make friends! It is even somewhat dangerous for adults, but adults have other ways of protecting themselves that are not available to children. If, however, a child has broken the rule and has met someone online, they should NEVER, EVER meet with someone they meet online. Even if the place he or she chooses to meet with this mysterious person is in the open—it can still be a very dangerous move. As teachers and as parents we need to make sure our children know not to do this. Not ever.
d) Adult supervision is required. To be effective child safety on the internet should always include a high degree of adult supervision. Children need to know to always, always, always ask an adult before going online. When an adult cannot be there to supervise, the computer needs to be protected with the installation of parental controls to stop the child from inadvertently straying into a chat room or a pornographic website. Adult supervision is particularly required when anything out of the ordinary is being done, such as downloading software or opening attachments to emails from unknown sources, because these things may compromise the privacy of the computer and potentially even personal information.
e) Most importantly, the child should be aware of the seriousness of these restrictions. If a child does not take these rules seriously he or she may already be in danger. No matter what other rules they ignore—these rules cannot be among them. It is, after all, truly a matter of life or death, and we as teachers, parents and guardians of children should emphasize child safety on the internet and be absolutely sure that the children understand: that breaking these rules could be fatal.
For child safety on the internet we must teach and reinforce all of these rules; repetition will never hurt, and don’t ever assume that someone else has taught your child the proper rules. These basic guidelines for child safety on the internet are literally tools for preventing heinous crimes everywhere. By recognizing and promoting child safety on the internet, we are protecting the lives and personal safety of children everywhere.
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