Computers are wonderful learning tools, but they can also expose children to dangers like unwanted content and inappropriate contact from adults through the Internet.
Parents, educators and caregivers can limit the danger and help children learn to navigate the Internet safely. By protecting their personal information and being cautious about what they view, families can reduce their risks.
Set rules. Know what your kids are doing. Talk to them about the dangers.
How Parents Can Help
Spend time with your kids, offline and online. Get them to show you what they do on the computer, and the websites they visit. Discourage children, especially young children, from communicating with anyone online that they don't know in real life.
Monitor your kids while you teach them Internet safety. Some parents may feel uncomfortable checking on their child's computer activities. However, experts say parents need to know what their children are doing online. It isn't snooping, it's caring.
Prevent inappropriate content. The Internet is home to many images that are inappropriate for children. Young people sometimes seek out sexual material online, but some encounter inappropriate material unintentionally. Sexual material can appear in search results, or arrive by unsolicited email, known as spam, as an attachment or link. Teach children never to click on a link in an unsolicited email, and to close out of inappropriate content quickly. Use a child-friendly search engine to help them avoid inappropriate search results.
Help them "Keep it Clean." If you decide your teen is old enough to join a social networking site or have a personal web page, help them develop good standards for online behavior. Adults who want to exploit young people look for racy photos and postings. Make sure there's nothing on your teen's page to attract their attention.
Report the wrongdoers. It is a violation of federal law to knowingly send or attempt to send obscene material to a child under the age of 16. Report incidents to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or www.cybertipline.com.