Crime Watch: How to protect your children online

07/26/2014 12:00 AM

07/23/2014 3:14 PM

School will be starting soon and many of you emailed me regarding the social network sites that your kids will be using this year. Nowadays it’s not just the computer at home but also their smartphones. You need to consider blocking your kids’ phones from some of these sites. Check with your telephone carrier to see what programs they have to offer in protecting kids.

Below is information provided by the National Crime Prevention Council.

Facebook and Twitter are some of the top social networking websites that have become an online craze for teens and for many adults. You’ve probably also heard some stories about how pedophiles are surfing these pages for their next targets, or how teens are having their identities stolen after posting too much information online.

As a parent, you can teach your children how to safely use social networking websites.

Below are some ways that you can protect your children and their personal information online.

• Tell your children not to post any identifying information online. This includes their cell phone number, address, hometown, school name, and anything else that a stranger could use to locate them.
• Remind your children never to give out their passwords to anyone but you — not even to their friends. Explain that if someone has their password, they could post embarrassing and unsafe information about them on their personal pages and even pose as them to talk to other people.
• Make sure that children understand that some people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Explain that on the Internet many people are not truthful about their identity and may even pretend to be someone else. It’s important to stress that young people should never meet people they met online face-to-face.
• Facebook and some other social networking websites let users set their profiles to private so that only their friends can contact them. Make sure younger teens’ profiles are set to private.
• Set clear rules regarding what your children are allowed to do online. Make sure you decide whether your children are allowed to post photos of themselves and open accounts without your permission.
• Have your children tell you if they ever see anything online that makes them uncomfortable. Make sure they understand that you won’t blame them.
• Ask them to come to you if anything happens online that hurts or scares them. Tell them that you won’t punish them by banning them from the Internet — this is a big reason why many kids don’t talk to their parents.

Keep those computers where you can see them when you are home. Ask questions if you see something on the screen you are not comfortable with and remember: You are the parent.

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