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Child safety on the internetBack  

We regularly hear on the news and current affair programs of children being taken advantage of on the internet. While the internet is full of exciting things to do and see it is also targeted by criminals and perverts looking for potential victims. Add to this a child’s innocence and parent’s lack of knowledge and it’s no wonder parents feel very concerned about their child’s safety. The problem is that there is no way of knowing exactly who it is you are conversing with. They may say they are a thirteen year old girl from Sydney but it may in fact be a forty five year old man from around the corner. There is nothing wrong with forty five year old men from around the corner but it is if they are posing as something other than what they really are.

There are three things parents can do to make their child’s internet experience a safer one. Educate, use available security features and monitor.

Education – Ensure your children are aware of the potential dangers on the internet. Instruct them to never give out detailed personal information about themselves or family members. It’s okay to give out vague information such as your name is Ben from SA and your age but never give out your full name, actual address, phone numbers, birth date etc. And NEVER agree to meet anyone.  For more information you can go to a government website - ww.cybersmart.gov.au.

Security features – Many of the top internet security/anti-virus programs have parental control features built in. Have a look at yours and you may already have one that just needs to be activated. Even if you have to pay a little more your child’s safety is worth it. Do a Google search for “safe searching for children” and you’ll find hundreds of great search engines available that you can set as a home page for your child to use. There are also further protection measures like using different DNS servers that will help protect against problem sites. You may need the assistance of a computer technician to set this up.

Monitor – Keep an eye on your child’s surfing habits. Ensure the computer is in a position that you can easily see the screen. If it is in a separate room have it facing the door not the other way around so as you pass you can have a glance at their screen. Or even better have the computer in the living area so it is readily viewable. Show interest and ask questions of your child’s activity and promote openness and honesty. Ask them to always check with you if they are unsure of anything. And don’t be afraid to stand over their shoulder occasionally in a similar way that you wouldn’t allow a stranger to walk into your house and chat with your child in private.

Much of this is aimed more at mid teens and younger but as your children get older don’t lose touch with their surfing habits. It seems it is natural for later teens to become more secretive but if you have had an open and honest relationship and you have taught them safe practices then generally they will maintain these principles.

mother and son