Protecting your children online is usually much harder than protecting yourself. Children are subject to the same threats that you might be subject to while you are online. Sometimes they are even subject to threats which are worse. Children have to be protected from the online threats, & sometimes even from themselves. Protecting your children online requires discipline, education, & a little use of technology.
Among the threats to which children are subject while they are online are:
- Exploitation (child pornography, abduction, trafficking) & stalking.
- Exposure to sexually explicit material.
- Identity theft & fraud.
Threats to children come in the same ways they do to adults. However, children may be more susceptible due to a number of reasons. Among these reasons are:
- Children are generally more trusting.
- They may not obey authority figures such as mum & dad.
- They want to be socially active & accepted by their friends & peers.
Protecting children online involves several facets, such as:
- Educating them on threats & how these threats are perpetrated. Make your children aware of the threats & what could happen if they do certain actions on the Internet.
- Encourage your children to talk to you & let you know when someone is trying to get too close to them or get information out of them online.
- Discourage your children from giving out too much information about themselves (such as photos, home address, phone number, school, friends, etc.)
- Restrict Internet access. Make sure you know when your children are on the Internet, what they are doing, & with whom.
- Schedule Internet access to a time when you are able to be at home & talk with them about it, see what they are doing, & so forth.
- Don't permit unsupervised access. Deny Internet access to your children in their room. Allow Internet access only in public or common use areas (such as the family room, etc.)
- Make sure you can see the monitor at all times while your children are online. Be wary of children who demand too much privacy online - what do they have to hide?
- Install & use network monitoring tools such as Net Nanny.
- If needed, restrict Internet access on the wireless router, DSL router, or even on the computer itself by setting a password that you only know so that your children will only be allowed to login when you can supervise them.
- Install a firewall that blocks chat or instant messaging programs, or access to certain sites.
- Install software that limits surfing to certain times of the day, or requires parental permission.
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