Kids are learning to use the Internet at very early ages. Most elementary classrooms have computers with Internet connections and some students know how to type before they know how to write. While kids are growing up on the Internet, it is important for them to receive education while they grow.
Young children should learn rules as they are learning to surf. While the kids are learning these rules, it is important for parents and guardians to monitor computer use. Parents should hold a “no privacy” standard until the kids are able to understand the risks and abide by the following set of rules.
• Kids should not enter personal information into a website. If the child has a legitimate need for filling out web forms, they should inform the parent. Parents can make the decision about if the form is safe or not. They can also teach the child about secure web sites and spyware.
• Kids should not download or run any Internet programs. The reasoning for this is the same as above. If the kid really needs to download the program they should inform a parent. While the parents explain about EXE programs they can also explain about viruses and how to avoid them.
• Kids should not post anything on the web without first getting a parent’s permission. Often kids will not understand the difference between public and private information. It is the parent’s job to teach the child what should and what shouldn’t be displayed for the world to see. Children should not have any pictures with identifying information on the web. If a parent wants to post family pictures it should be on a secure, password protected site.
• Kids should keep there passwords secret. Sometimes it’s hard for kids to keep a secret but this secret is important. Parents can teach kids that giving someone a password is like giving someone a house key and it should not be done without the parent’s consent.
• Kids should tell parents immediately if anything online seems suspicious. Teach children that anything that they aren’t sure about, anything that makes them feel strange, should be checked out by an adult. It’s okay to let kids know that there are “bad guys” out there on the Internet.
• Kids should be educated about attachments when they get an email account. It is fun for kids to have email and it is fun for them to send each other attachments but kids should know that viruses are sent through attachments. They can be taught about the different types of files and what they might expect to receive via the mail. At the same time they can be taught the red flags like getting emails from unfamiliar addresses. Teach kids that sometimes the message bar will say the email is coming from a friend but to check and see if the address matches the address of the friend.
• Kids are never, under any circumstance allowed to chat privately with someone on the Internet. If kids are using chat rooms at all it should be under parental supervision but they should be taught that they are not to use private chat rooms under any circumstance.
• Finally, but most importantly, kids are never allowed to meet anybody from the Internet. This is one rule that can never be broken because the risk is not just to the computer or to personal and family identity. The consequence of breaking this rule can be to the life and limb of the child.