Sunday, 14 February 2010

Protecting Children Online: Steps to Ensure Your Computer is Child Friendly

It's an unfortunate truth of reality, but children are the most exploited computer users on the Internet today. The reassuring news is that there are some measures you can carry out to protect your children from hackers, and sexual predators. This document describes a few of them.

The first measure in protecting your children at the computer is to avert their access to passwords. This will prevent them from sharing passwords with others and inadvertently enabling hacking into your system. There should be no grounds for a five, seven, or even twelve year old needing to know sensitive passwords unless you've given them permission. Children should not need to know the password used to access the Internet either. After a while it may become a bother to type the password in every time they want to get online. It's an assurance to know the times that they connect rather than to have them sneak online without your acknowledgment and knowledge of their activities.

The second preventive measure towards protecting your children online is to participate in your children's activities. Sitting next to your child while he or she probes the Internet, you can help him or her to make safe and well-informed decisions. You can approve web sites and bookmark them together. You can supervise the conversations your children have with their friends and teach them appropriate online behavior at the same time. You can recommend and create a private time for quality time as well.

The third step is of most importance and involves blocking access to out of bounds areas. Unfortunately your children may not always agree about what is appropriate, but as a guardian, you are responsible for their safety. Spend time and research software packages that enable you to control and allow you to block access to certain web sites. If you use an online service like AOL (America Online), you can configure the internal Parental Control settings to block access to undesirable coatrooms and web sites. You even have the ability to block instant messaging and email from anyone who is not a AOL user.

Other software online function similar to the way that AOL's Parental Control settings work, nevertheless no collection of tools could replace the reinforcement of mom and dad. In no circumstances let your children speak with strangers and never leave them alone at the computer unattended. Children just don't have the experience that adults have and they do not have the skills required to handle inappropriate conversations, emails, or images found online.

NOTE: Some of these tools available include specifically designed web browsers that will visit per-approved web sites. Others include browser plug-ins that will not admit access to online web sites that contain forbidden keywords. For example KidRocket Kid Safe Web Browser an exceptional tool.

Another step requires teaching your children to never ever offer personal information. Under no circumstances should children commit their personal names, home addresses, phone numbers, or school information to anyone over the Internet regardless of the situation. In the case this information is required to enter a contest of some sort, be sure that you're the one who makes the decision to issue it and that you are the one who does it.

Software alone will not replace good old fashioned parenting. If you have concerns about what your child is doing online, speak to them, find out what they are doing, and who they talk to, Asking them what interesting things they find to help break down barriers, enhance communication, and build trust. Maintaining communication with your children is crucial, if something is suspicious they will come to you first.

As mentioned earlier make sure your children know the risks about giving out personal information online. Younger children should never talk to strangers online, communication channels should be blocked. Older teenagers should always be careful and to be a little suspicious of everything that they read online. Make sure they understand that you are a safe person to talk to, and that they will not get in trouble if they show you something that they saw online that made them uncomfortable.

A safe way to talk to friends is through MSN Messenger Children can talk to school friends in a safe environment away from dangerous chat rooms. Please note this is not 100% safeguarded so you still need to monitor conversations from time to time.

MSN Messenger allows you to save the conversations for later reading material. However Computer whiz kids will disable this option.

Performing all these preventive measures will not be easy. However explaining why you are taking these precautions will help minimize resistance to your monitoring efforts. Younger children will probably relish the time you spend together at the computer, but older children and preteens may resent it. To help illustrate your concern, you might want to show your older children a few news stories that exemplify the risks that unsupervised children are exposed to. Regrettably the news is full of examples but with your help, we can reduce them world-wide.

Protecting children online should be priority

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