I’ve received several emails from parents asking why their children’s computers should be located where adults can see them. The reason: You always want to know what activities your child is involved in, what sites they are visiting, and who is contacting them.
Today’s social networks are great, but they also come with some danger. This column will address some of the things you can do as a parent and what to look for. First, though, you must become informed yourself and learn to navigate a computer. The Miami-Dade Public School system has some very good classes, and you should attend some of those in order to be up to date on computer usage.
Internet safety starts with you, the parent. It’s the single most important thing you can do to keep your child safe online. Why? Because there are people out there looking for ways to prey on children.
Parents need to teach their children that not everything they read online is true, that there are people surfing the internet using fake names and ages, and that many people want to use children for illegal activities.
Spend time online with your child to learn about their activities. You might want to place a time limit on the use of the computer, like what time of the day your child can go on and how much time they can spend online.
Last, but not least, stress to your child that if anyone contacts them or they are sent something that is not right, they need to show it to you immediately.
Sexual predators thrive by scaring kids into not telling parents.
Visit Citizen’s Crime Watch online at www.youthcrimewatch-miamidade.com for brochures in Spanish and English on what you can do to keep your child safe. Also, you can email or call our office and we will send them to you.
As a final comment, watch those cellphones and iPads, because they also can access the internet. But that is a column for another day.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.