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Internet Protection – Computer Safety for Kids & Teens

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The Internet provides us with an abundant amount of educational information, entertainment, and can connect us with people throughout the entire world. As wonderful as the Internet can be, it can also be a dangerous place for children and teens. When using the Internet, one must be careful about sharing any form of personal information because unfortunately the Internet can be a platform for cyber criminals to target kids, teens, and young adults. The most common types of criminals found on the web include (online predators), identity thieves, cyberbullies, and hackers. In order to protect your children and loved to the fullest extent one must take all the necessary precautions when using a computer.

 

How To Avoid Online Predators

Of all the cyber criminals lurking the Internet, (online predators) are the most terrifying. These horrible individuals get in contact with kids and teens through social networking sites, chat rooms, blogs, instant messaging, and sometimes email. They pretend to relate to the young ones by understanding and relating to their problems, finding an interest in their hobbies and sometimes even add in sexual content.

In order to avoid getting involved in these scary and dangerous situations, parents / guardians should sit down with their children and discuss (Internet safety) to make them aware of (online predators). It is also important for parents to remind children to never talk to strangers online or make any attempt to meet up with a person they do not know. Parents should inspect any and all information a child might want to make available for their online profile(s). This includes pictures, video, audio, and any text data as well. Children should stay away from chat rooms, except those which their parents approve, and parents should routinely monitor their child's computer usage.

 

Use Of Parental Settings

In today's modern world, children have a hard time staying off the computer. Not only do they depend on the Internet for a portion of their educational needs, but many kids/teens these days are infatuated with using the various social media platforms to stay connected with their friends. Parents should be aware of the fact that the Internet is a breeding ground for objectionable material like pornography and violent content. Various efforts have been made to censor this content in the name of (Internet safety) for kids, and some laws exist to prevent access to it by children. However, the most effective way to prevent children from coming across such content, is the use of parental control settings.

Parents can utilize content filters on their child's computer that will limit their access to age appropriate content only. There are also usage controls which place a time constraint on a computer and will log the user off after an extended amount of time has passed (ex: 30 minutes) or if it is past a set time (ex: 7:30 pm.). There are also various brands of content filtering software which use databases to decide which websites are kid-friendly and which ones are not.

 

Avoid Giving Away Personal Information

It is absolutely critical that children and teens know they should never give out any form of personal information over the computer without first consulting a parent. (Online predators) often think of sneaky ways to gain information from young ones which can ultimately put them in incredible danger. In addition to tracking down young children and teens, some people ask for personal information such as a Social Security Number to steal the identity of a young child. Make it known to your child or teen that they should never, under any circumstance share personal information.

 

Do's & Don'ts Of Social Media

The various social media platforms of today's world are growing each day as more and more of our youth are creating accounts (if they don't already have one). Each platform offers kids endless opportunities than can be wonderful, creating a positive effect on their life or social media can have the opposite effect and put them in danger. That is why it is important for parents to acknowledge both the positive and negative effects of social media usage, as well as a number of the do's and don'ts.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+ and many others allow teens to engage and keep up with friends and family, share fun photos, support causes they believe in, as well as play games and find entertainment. It also enables today's youth to get involved in charitable activities and express their ideas and artistic creativity through blogs and YouTube accounts. Utilizing social media in this manner is the correct way and has the potential to offer favorable advantages in the future.

As many of us know, teenagers love to share pictures and videos as well as talk to their friends on each of the social networking platforms, but what many teens don't realize is that sometimes it is not okay to share certain things. Teens should never post pictures or videos of themselves engaging in illegal activities such as smoking or drinking, because it most certainly can / will come back and impact them negatively in the future. They should also understand that when it comes to social media, whatever they say can be recorded permanently. Words spoken in anger or out of prejudice can come back to haunt them for the rest of their lives, as they can be viewed as cyberbullies.

 

Additional Resources

 

Email Emma Kavanagh

 

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