Internet Safety Tips for Kids
- I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents' work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents' permission.
- I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
- I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.
- I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
- I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the service provider.
- I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
- I will not give out my Internet password to anyone (even my best friends) other than my parents.
- I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.
Rules one through six are adapted from the brochure Child Safety on the Information Highway by SafeKids.Com founder Lawrence J. Magid. Printed copies are available free by calling 1-800-843-5678.
Internet-Related Safety Tips for Teens
- Don't give out personal information about yourself, your family situation, your school, your telephone number, or your address.
- If you become aware of the sharing, use, or viewing of child pornography online, immediately report this to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.
- When in chat rooms remember that not everyone may be who they say they are. For example a person who says "she" is a 14-year-old girl from New York may really be a 42-year-old man from California.
- If someone harasses you online, says anything inappropriate, or does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, contact your Internet service provider.
- Know that there are rules many Internet Service Providers (ISP) have about online behavior. If you disobey an ISP's rules, your ISP may penalize you by disabling your account, and sometimes every account in a household, either temporarily or permanently.
- Consider volunteering at your local library, school, or Boys & Girls Club to help younger children online. Many schools and nonprofit organizations are in need of people to help set up their computers and Internet capabilities.
- A friend you meet online may not be the best person to talk to if you are having problems at home, with your friends, or at school - remember the teenage "girl" from New York in Tip number three? If you can't find an adult in your school, church, club, or neighborhood to talk to, Covenant House is a good place to call at 1-800-999-9999. The people there provide counseling to kids, refer them to local shelters, help them with law enforcement, and can serve as mediators by calling their parents.
- If you are thinking about running away, a friend from online (remember the 14-year-old girl) may not be the best person to talk to. If there is no adult in your community you can find to talk to, call the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-621-4000. Although some of your online friends may seem to really listen to you, the Switchboard will be able to give you honest, useful answers to some of your questions about what to do when you are depressed, abused, or thinking about running away.
- Adapted from Teen Safety on the Information Highway by Lawrence J. Magid. Copyright© respectively 1994 and 1998 National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). All rights reserved.
- Adapted from Children Online: The ABCs for Parenting: When Is Your Child Ready by The Children's Partnership. Reprinted with permission of The Children's Partnership. http://www.childrenspartnership.org
Knowing My 8 Safety Rules
- I always check first with my parents or other person in charge before I go anywhere or get into a car, even with someone I know.
- I always check first with my parents or a trusted adult before I accept anything from anyone, even from someone I know.
- I always take a friend with me when I go places outside.
- I know my name address, telephone number and my parents names.
- I say no if someone tries to touch me or treat me in a way that makes me feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.
- I know that I can tell my parents or a trusted adult if I feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.
- It's OK to say no, and I know that there will always be someone who can help me
- I am strong, smart, and have the right to be safe.
Warning signs that your child may be at risk online
As much as we try to protect our children from danger online, sometimes they can still get into bad situations. Here is a list of warning signs that your child may be at risk.
- Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night
- You find pornography on your child's computer
- Your child is receiving phone calls from people you don't know, or is making phone calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you do not recognize
- Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from people you do not know
- Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room
- Your child becomes withdrawn from the family
- Your child is using an online account belonging to someone else
Parents Safety Tips
The best way to ensure your child's safety on the Internet is to be there. Of course, that is not always possible. Just as you teach your child rules about dealing with strangers outside the home, you must provide rules for communicating online.
Suggested rules for kids:
- Always ask your parents' permission before using your full name, address, telephone number, or school name anywhere on the Internet.
- Always tell your parents or other adults you trust if you see something online that is scary or that you don't understand.
- Don't respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy.
- Never give out a credit card number or password online.
- Never arrange to meet in person someone you've met online unless you discuss it with your parents and an adult goes with you.
Teach children that not everything they see or hear may be true. Some sites may be trying to sell them something or contain inaccurate information.
Remember, the vast majority of Internet sites are perfectly safe. But, like the real world, the virtual world contains some sites with sexual, violent, and other content that may not be appropriate for children.
If you have a home computer, a number of software filters are available to block Web sites you may not want your child to visit. Parents need to understand that filters are not perfect. They cannot block everything you might not want your child to see and they may block information that is helpful. Even if filters were 100 percent effective, this software is no substitute for parental guidance.
We strongly recommend that you supervise older as well as younger children's Internet use at home and at the library. It's a good idea to place computers in the kitchen, family room, or living room so that you can see your child using it. Young children should never be allowed to "surf the Net" alone.