Thursday, May 22, 2008

Online Security tips for your kids

7 tips for keeping kids safe online
Andy Greenberg


Any parent who has spent a few minutes trying to decipher the abbreviations in his or her teenager’s online chat conversations knows that the web hosts a youth culture all its own. And that world doesn’t just have its own language, it also fosters the sharing of personal information among friends—and sometimes strangers—that can set off alarm bells for parents. Here are a few tips for keeping up with your kid in this quickly evolving space—and helping to draw the line between harmless socializing and dangerous breaches of privacy

1. Talk to your kids about the web: More important than trying to limit or control your kids’ web access is to educate them about what information-sharing and behaviour is smart and responsible on the net. Make it clear to your kids that everything they post to a social networking site, or even send in an email, could easily end up being widely distributed to anyone in cyberspace—including people they’d never talk with in person. On the list of details they should never share online: home addresses, phone numbers, any financial information, sensitive personal details or compromising pictures.

2. Use kid-oriented social networks: One easy way to limit the dangers of social networking is to sign up your preteen kids for social networking sites designed for safety. The social network Imbee.com, for instance, is built to replicate real world friendships online, not to help kids meet strangers. Users can only access profiles within a limited network of friends. All new connections are approved by parents. The kids’ networking site Club Penguin is even safer, albeit targeted at a very young audience—with certain settings, users can only chat using a set of harmless phrases.

3. Use content-locking tools sparingly: Programs like Net Nanny or Cybersitter can block objectionable content on the web and make tracking your children’s online behaviour easy. But Larry Magid, founder of Safekids.com and Connectsafely.org, suggests parents think twice before locking down internet use with these kinds of programs. For teenagers, these sorts of software are likely to inspire rebellion and tempt them to find other, less censored paths to blocked material. For younger kids, Magid suggests the filters are often a poor substitute for more long-lasting education about online safety.

4. Agree on good terms for web use: The internet is more widely accessible every day, so a kid given strict rules about online behaviour without his or her input is likely to find a less restrictive entryway to the web. Instead, come to an agreement with your kids about what you both consider acceptable behaviour in terms of balancing their privacy and their safety. Larry Magid suggests parents and children write and sign pledges for proper online behaviour and post them by the family computer.

5. Monitor Your Kids’ Online Profile: One of the dangers of social networking and blogging is that so much of it occurs on the public web, where it’s broadcast to the world. But if strangers can access kids’ profiles and blogs, so can parents. Just as you stay involved in your child’s friendships in the offline world, you can also keep tabs on his or her online socializing, either actively participating for younger kids or watching from a less intrusive distance for teenagers.

6. Pick your location for computer carefully: Setting up a desktop computer that’s tied to a certain location in the house, rather than buying a laptop and using a wireless internet connection, is one way to make keeping an eye on your child’s web use easier. Even better: Put that computer in a high-traffic area of the house, like the living room or family room, to ensure that web surfing stays public. Keeping the internet out of your child’s bedroom also helps you balance his or her online activity with a healthy mix of offline activities like sports and reading.

7. Monitor cellphone use: As phones get smarter, the line between a cellphone and a net-connected computer is beginning to blur. If your child has a phone with internet capabilities, you should be sure to include cellphone use in your discussion about safe online communication. Monitoring your phone bill is one way to keep tabs on the amount of web browsing your child is doing over a cellular network. FORBES

Source: Times of India

2 comments:

Luke said...

Thanks for the tips.

I've also done some research on the subject and I really believe every parent needs to be informed about the ins and outs of Internet safety.

Did you know that the largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17?

I've also recently learned that according to the second Youth Internet Safety Survey there is a documented increase in the proportion of kids reporting unwanted exposure to pornography.

I'd love to hear your comments on some blog posts I published a while back about cyberbullying and online predators:

1. Safety Tips for Parents: http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/03/25/a-parents-guide-to-internet-safety-for-children/
2. Online Predators: http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/04/03/protecting-kids-online-the-myths-and-realities-of-online-predators/
3. Cyberbullying: http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/04/07/cyberbullying-the-new-playground/

I'm curious: have you heard of the Covenant Eyes filter and accountability programs? What makes them unique is that it gives you the option to simply monitor your Internet surfing, filter it, or both. A good filtering program is very helpful for children and families, but a good monitoring program is great for adults and children alike who want to be accountable to others about where they go online. If you want to know more, read up on it at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/help_and_support/article/covenant_eyes_products

shady (it's just a name) said...

Hey man, I agree with you on #4… Net Nanny, Cybersitter and even Luke’s Covenant Eyes focus on restricting and blocking. That will only cause kids to break the rules (remember when your parents said you couldn’t get an earring or stay out late – you did anyway). Plus, some of those programs want you to pay a monthly subscription. PC Pandora focuses on verification by KNOWING exactly what your kids are doing – with monitoring software. Why filter and block, when you can KNOW and act appropriately… oh yeah, and PC Pandora does do those things too – they just prefer parents know, not assume. Knowledge is power.