As computers become more important in the world, it becomes more important for our children to go online. Computers have largely replaced libraries as places to get information for school reports and projects. Computers have also enmeshed themselves into the social lives of our children. This can present a dilemma for parents. We want to encourage our children academically and socially. We want them to enjoy the advantages of being connected and going online. However, we also want them to be safe. The dilemma is in encouraging their online activities while discouraging online threats.
The best thing that parents can do is become educated about the use and the dangers of the Internet. Sometimes people are intimidated by computers and the Internet, especially when the kids already know more than we do. Here are a few simple things that you need to know about the Internet to help keep your children safe.
One thing to know about is viruses. Computer viruses act a lot like real viruses. If your computer happens to make contact with a virus, usually by opening email attachments, it gets in your computer and makes it sick. The sickness can be merely annoying or it can be fatal. Just like human viruses, once you get one it can be very hard or impossible to get rid of. Worse, the viruses reproduce by sending themselves out to allof your friends and make their computers sick too.
There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself against viruses. One thing you must do is get some anti-virus software. Either you can buy this software or you can download it. Usually you buy protection for one year at a time. This software does a great job of preventing viruses but you do have to install the updates when they popup.
Another way to protect yourself is to be careful with email attachments. Don’t open attachments that don’t come with a personal message from someone you know. Viruses are trickyâ€”they can copy names from your inbox and place them in the subject line of your email, tricking you into thinking you are getting an email from a friend. Teach your children about the tricks that viruses play and the dangers of opening attachments.
Another thing you need to know about is spyware. Make a rule in your home that kids are not allowed to give out any information of the Internet. They might want to type your name and address into an online form to enter a contest. What they don’t realize is that by submitting this information electronically both your privacy and your identity are threatened. There are sites where it is perfectly fine to type in your personal information. Hundreds of millions of people buy stuff on these sites everyday. These are called secured sites. As the parent, you should be in charge of making sure everything that is typed into the Internet is typed into a secure site.
The other important thing to know about the Internet is that there are predators that use the Internet to victimize children. Parents should be as involved as possible in what their children are doing while on line. Look at their blogs regularly. Have access to their email accounts. Private online activities are dangerous. Children should earn privacy only after they are taught about the risks and have demonstrated responsibility.
If your child changes the page he or she is looking at when you come into the room you should be concerned. Learn to use the “history” button on the menu bar and see where your child has “been”. Ask your children what chatrooms they go to and go there occasionally.
It is possible for your child to use the Internet and stay safe. It is even possible for your child to use the computer and have your computer remain virus free. But you need to follow these guidelines and educate your children.