As a parent of two children, I have become increasingly aware of how much the internet influences my children. Over the last 5 years the world of cyberspace has continued to grow. The Internet has become a great resource for children. They can use it to do research school reports, play interactive games, and today many schools are online. Therefore, if a child is absent from school, they can access their teachers and missed assignments online.

However, allowing your child to use the internet comes with the responsibility of protecting them. It is extremely important to be actively involved in what your children see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what information they are giving other’s about themselves.

As parents, it is not always easy to approach your children and talk about these matters, but these are matters of safety and in some cases life or death. So, we must open the lines of communication with our children.

There is a federal law passed to help protect our children while they are using the Internet. The law is known as The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The purpose is to protect our children’s personal information from others. This law states that websites have to gain parental consent before obtaining or using a child’s private information.

As parents, it is essential to prevent access to sexual explicit material and to protect your children from Internet predators. There are many things available to parents to help protect your children from possible dangers associated with the internet.

Many Internet service providers have parent-control options to block inappropriate material from coming in to your child’s computer. Software is also available to block those websites that you do not want your children to have access to. One service that is absolutely essential if your child spends time on the Internet is software that allows the parents to monitor and track their child’s online activity.

Besides the previous mentioned suggestions, it is important to be a participant not an observer in your children’s activities. The following are some things that can help you play an active role in your children’s lives. Become computer literate and learn how to block objectionable material.

If you do not know how to use the computer yourself, learn how and know how to navigate the internet.

Make sure the computer is kept in the common living area, not in your child’s bedrooms.

Make sure you know your child’s email address so that you can monitor what and who they are communicating with.

Do not allow your child to enter private chat rooms; block them with safety features provided by your Internet service provider or with special filtering software. It is important to remember that when your children post messages in a chat room, it reveals your child’s email address to others. Do not allow your child to go onto My Space.

Do not let your child go online any place, but in their home or school. If your child receives any obscene or threatening messages, forward these messages immediately to your Internet service provider.

Report any inappropriate behavior to your local police department. Each household should have set of rules for your children to follow while they’re using the Internet. For Example:

  • Do not trade personal photographs over the Internet.
  • Never reveal such as address, phone number, or school name or location.
  • Absolutely never agree to meet anyone that you meet over the internet in person.
  • Tell a parent or adult about any email or conversation that was made you afraid or uncomfortable.

The most important thing to remind your children about is that people online often may not be who they say they are. Someone who says that “she” is a “12-year-old girl” could really be an older man. Explain to your children about online predators. Give them the information they need so they do not become a victim.

Rita Damato
Maggiano, DiGirolamo, Lizzi