The following tips have been set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your family safe while on the internet:
It’s important to have a set of rules when your children use the Internet. Make sure your children understand what you consider appropriate and what areas are off-limits. Let them know that the rules are for their safety.
The following are tips you can teach your children about online safety:
- NEVER give out personal information unless a parent says it’s OK. This includes your name, address, phone number, age, race, school name or location, or friends’ names.
- NEVER share passwords, even with friends.
- NEVER meet a friend you only know online in person unless a parent says it’s OK. It’s best if a parent goes along and to meet in a public place. (Older teens that may choose not to tell a parent and go alone should at least go with a friend and meet in a public place.)
- NEVER respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable or hurt your feelings. Ignore these messages, stop all communication, and tell a parent or another adult you trust right away.
The following is what you can teach your children about how they should act online:
- NEVER send mean messages online. NEVER say something online that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. Bullying is wrong whether it’s done in person or online.
- NEVER use the Internet to make someone look bad. For example, never send messages from another person’s e-mail that could get that person into trouble.
- NEVER plagiarize. It’s illegal to copy online information and say that you wrote it.
Surfing the Web should not take the place of other important activities, including homework, playing outside, or spending time with friends. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting total screen time in front of a TV or computer to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day for children older than 2 years. An alarm clock or timer can help you keep track of time.
Other steps you can take
In addition to setting clear rules, you can do the following to create a safer online experience:
- Surf the Web with your children.
- Put the computer in a room where you can monitor your children. Computers should never be placed in a room where a door can be closed or a parent excluded.
- Use tracking software. It’s a simple way to keep track of where your children have been on the Web. However, nothing can replace supervision.
- Install software or services that can filter or block offensive Web sites and material. Be aware, however, that many children are smart enough to find ways around the filters. Also, you may find that filters may be more restrictive than you want.
- Find out what the Internet use policies are at your child’s school or at your library.
If you or your children come across anything illegal or threatening, you should report it to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Cyber Tipline. For more information, call 800/THE-LOST (800/843-5678) or visit the Web site at http://www.cybertipline.com.
AAP age-based guidelines for children’s Internet use
Up to age 10
Children this age need supervision and monitoring to ensure they are not exposed to inappropriate materials. Parents should use Internet safety tools to limit access to content, Web sites, and activities, and be actively involved in their child’s Internet use.
Ages 11 to 14
Children this age are savvier about their Internet experience; however, they still need supervision and monitoring to ensure they are not exposed to inappropriate materials. Internet safety tools are available that can limit access to content and Web sites and provide a report of Internet activities. Children this age also need to understand what personal information should not be given over the Internet.
Ages 15 to 18
Teens are savvier about their Internet experience; however, they still need parents to define appropriate safety guidelines. Parents should be available to help their teens understand inappropriate messages and avoid unsafe situations. Parents may need to remind teens what personal information should not be given over the Internet.
- The Internet and Your Family (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)