Part of the premise of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Gala, honoring John Walsh, is to increase awareness among parents on how they can prevent their children from falling victim to online predators.
School is getting ready to start next week here in Salt Lake City and around the country, and with it comes homework, friends and a lot of time spent online. The Internet is such an amazing tool that can broaden the horizons of children, if handled appropriately. However, it can also open children and homes up to a world of pain, addictive behaviors and dangerous situations – both on- and offline.
As we roll out our new website in the next several weeks, we will be posting a list of tips and resources in conjunction with the gala promotion. However, it’s been on my mind a lot lately as I see the back to school preparations, and I want to start the conversation now. Large sponsors of this year’s event, including companies like XanGo and America First Credit Union have committed to help us get the message out as well by messaging to their customers and partners online safety tips.
Internet crimes against children are some of the most preventable crimes out there – if we pledge to take a few extra minutes to know what is going on, who our kids are talking to and how to talk to them about staying safe.
I encourage any of you out there to share tips of what you’ve done to help your children (or children with whom you work) stay safe online. Tell us how you talk to them and what has worked for your family. I’ll take the best ones and post them in a blog in the next few weeks.
For now, here is the list we’ve compiled from sources including Harvard Medical School, the FBI, AOL/CBS and Today’s Woman. The FBI has also put out an online handbook for parents, which you can read by clicking here.
Tips to Keep Kids Safe Online:
- Be aware of what children are doing online and to whom they are talking.
- Keep the computer in a family area or common room.
- Stay engaged as children get older.
- Help teens learn how to keep themselves safe and review the rules.
- Talk to your child about potential dangers online
- Spend time with your children online. Have them tell you about their favorite online destinations.
- Utilize parental Internet controls provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
- Always maintain access to your child’s online account and randomly check his/her e-mail.
- Teach your child responsible online behavior.
- Find out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child’s school, the public library and the homes of your child’s friends.
- Instruct your children to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they meet online, to never post pictures of themselves online, to not give out identifying information (name, address, age, school, hometown) and to never download pictures from an unknown source.
- Make an agreement with your child.
- Set time limits on computer access.
- Don’t overreact
- Do not allow your child to use a webcam unsupervised
- Assist your children in drawing lines about who it is appropriate to communicate with and who it is not.
- Children should not post or swap photos online.
- Children should not complete profiles in blogging software or social networks where they may be tempted to give too much information away about themselves.
- Children should not complete questionnaires/surveys online.
- Restrict and/or monitor access to chat rooms.
- Block abililty to receive instant messages (IMs) from unknown users.
- Be aware of, and knowledgeable about, chat components of online games and how your child is engaging with others in the game.
Again, if you have tips you’d like to share with other parents or professionals, leave a comment, and we’ll help spread the word. Our children are too important to leave this to chance.