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You Can Make it Safer


Blue Skies Ahead On the Cyborizon

You cannot stop the access, nor should you - there's no hope in fighting it. There are things, however, that you can do to foster trust, safety and exercise some degree of control.

Teach children HOW NOT to be Risk Takers online.

  • Try to anticipate possible consequences of actions done online.

  • "Think before you send." You cannot retract anything sent online, and there is a paper trail of your deeds.

  • Never send anything that you would not say to someone's face.

  • Never send anything that you would not want to see written about you, and sent to everyone you ever knew.

  • Do not present yourself online as someone you are not. Don't be misleading or suggestive.

  • Know you have no privacy online, ever. Understand your visibility and the vulnerability you open yourself up to online.

  • Do not share passwords, even with friends.

  • Logoff any online or network computer when you leave.

  • Follow the steps to make any online social network site restricted to invited members.
    Myspace and Yahoo and most others have privacy settings.

  • Google yourself, your kids, your family, for an idea of how visible you are on the web. Do this from time to time.

  • Be very careful what you share online, it can backfire and cause you pain. Do not share your deepest secrets, fears, hopes and dreams via the Internet. Pick up the phone or visit for heart to heart conversations.

Teach children to be ethical computer users.

  • Know your school's AUP, and discuss it at some length with your kids.

  • Know the state law regarding computer use.

  • Do not impersonate others or falsely represent yourself.

  • Do not use other peoples' passwords, accounts.

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Culture of Trust

Create a culture of trust with open lines of communication surrounding the computer and online activities.

Make Technology a Family Affair

  • Ask kids what they like online, and have them show you.

  • Surf the web with them. This gives
    Gives kids a reason to talk about the computer with their parents.

  • Shop online with them. This Provides a great forum for asking about these other issues in a non lecture manner. ( This does not have to result in online purchasing, can be research for a "bricks and mortar" shopping experience over the weekend.

  • Recruit your kids to teach you the latest tricks and trends. They love to teach their parents. (I.E. IM, text messaging
    Have them help YOU with computer projects.)

  • Find teachable moments to share experiences with your kids.

  • Show your kids your spam email (not that they need the viagra)

  • Show them a website that you found with biased or unreliable information.

  • Share a news article about a Myspace.

Ask Your Children questions

  • Do your friends know your passwords?

  • Do you know theirs? Who?

  • Do You Keep a blog or a personal web site?

  • Ask who does what online?

  • If they have a Blog or Social Network site, ask to see their site - tomorrow. Give time for them to edit it.

  • Do they know all of your IM buddies or network friends?

  • Ask for your child's' passwords and logon names- and don't use them! Reassure them you won't use it if you feel your kids are using the web appropriately and safety
    (There have been times kids have gotten themselves into trouble and parents know that clues may lie within sites
    .)

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5 Things to Do Right Now

1. Talk to your kids about their online lives. The Internet has joined the ranks of sex and drugs.

2. Put the computers in a public space.

2. Make sure a parent is the Administrator of the family computers.

3. Set Browser settings to "safe search" mode. (This is an advanced search setting a few clicks away.)

4. If they have a MySpace.com or other account, set one up for yourself. This will affect how they behave online.

5. Buy them a cell phone with pre-paid minutes. This will teach responsibility, keep them further from harm's way, and will save you a lot of money.

Articles and Sites

Understanding Digital Kids (PDF)