With all of the wonderful things that the Internet has to offer, there is an equal amount of the ugly. With the Internet we have opportunities never before imagined, but at the same time predators and thieves also have a new way to victimize and exploit not only us, but our children as well. Many parents fear that they do not know enough about the Internet to know how to protect their children. Teachers worry that no one child can be monitored at all times and something inappropriate may happen when you are not looking. With all the “what if” concerns, how are you to really be assured of the safety of your kids while they are online?
Fortunately there are things that you can do to ensure that your students and children are as safe as possible when they are online. With technological means of protection and regular discussions and lessons about Internet safety, you can protect those you care about from most criminals.
Regular lessons about Internet safety
Children should be taught about Internet safety in both the classroom and at home. Boundaries need to be set regarding what web sites a child can and cannot visit, whether or not supervision is required, and the length of time allowed online. Children learn best through stories and role play. Effective lessons of the dangers of giving personal information to someone that you do not know online can be taught in this manner. Parents and teachers need to decide on boundaries even if their computers are protected with different safety programs, because a child is exposed to computers in many other places besides home and school.
“Don’t talk to strangers” applies online
Most children have been taught and have the good sense to know that you should not give personal information to strangers that you see on the street. But for many children it is conceptually difficult to apply this principle when they are online because they cannot see the person on the receiving end of an Internet correspondence. Predators know that they can trick children into believing that they are talking to someone that they can trust, when in fact it can all be an act, a means by which to victimize and exploit children. Children should be taught that they should not talk to anyone online that they and their parents have not met in person.
With rules about Internet use in place, it is also a good idea to have a content filter on your computer. Filters are intended to both prevent a child from viewing an unapproved site and to protect them from objectionable materials that may appear on accident. Different filters will work in different ways but most will either filter out specific sites designated by you or they will eliminate access to a certain theme such as pornography.
Monitoring software for activity reporting
Monitoring software is able to produce a report of what sites a child has visited and when they were visited. This feature is beneficial in a number of ways. Some children may not realize that they have wandered onto a site that may be inappropriate for them. The teacher or parent can review the activity report and find a problem before it gets out of hand. Of course there are also those children who would knowingly try to find a way around the rules and filters that are in place. Being able to monitor what sites they visit gives you the peace of mind that you would know about a situation with rule breaking as soon as it happens.
Firewalls are virtual tools that are used to scramble or make private any personal information. It is a way to ensure that no one can be spying on your students and children while they are online.