As Parents our number one priority is protecting our children. What some parents may not know is that one of the biggest dangers to our children could be right in our own homes. This danger hides behind a simple electronic device. This danger is the Internet. Twenty-four percent of 550 US teens surveyed said they have been contacted online by a stranger to meet them (Harris Interactive, 2003).
The predators online know what they are doing. They gain the child’s trust and make them think they care about them, and then luring them out to meet them can become very easy. Children do not realize the dangers they face online. They can be very easily tricked into giving private information. Maybe your child’s baseball team recently won a baseball game, a predator could tell them how cool that it is they play so well, and then the predator might say “What school do you play for?” Your child may tell them this information and there is a key piece this person needs to try and find your child.
The Internet is a great tool; it has become an essential part of life for children today (Rupley, 2004). In today’s world and in the future the Internet will remain an important means of research and keeping in touch with family and friends. But there is a means in it for a child to get in trouble. So as parents we must help protect our children by monitoring what they do and who they talk to. We can make there online experience safe and productive by using loving supervision and by communicating with our children about the dangers online.
The dangers online exist in many forms not just predators, there is also illegal peer to file- sharing of games and music, mistyping a website could bring up pornography or violent acts.
We can protect our children though and still let them enjoy the benefits of the World Wide Web. We can do some of the same things schools do to protect our children while using the schools computers. Kids are statistically safer online at school then at home (Aftab, 2004). This may have something to do with the fact that schools usually have someone who oversees what our children are doing online. Schools also use monitoring technology; allow only limited Internet access, block instant messaging and chat rooms (Aftab, 2004).
Protecting our children while online is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. In New York and New Jersey 56 child predators were arrested as part of Protection Predator (Washington Times, 2005).
While you can’t look over your child’s shoulder every minute of the day, there are lots of things you can do to help ensure their protection and privacy. Talk to them about not giving out any kind of personal information, let them know it is illegal to use peer-to-peer file sharing programs and you will not allow these programs on the computer, don’t let them have computers in their bedrooms, put the computer in a community family room, use parental controls provided by your Internet Service provider, purchase and us Internet Monitoring Software.
There are two main types of Internet safety software; monitoring software- which is software that allows parents to see everything their children have done online. It can record every single email, instant messages, chat sessions, websites visited and even passwords. Spector Pro recently won Pc Magazines Editors choice award for activity monitoring. There is lots of other good monitoring software out there though, it is up to you to decide which to use.
Filtering Software is also a wise addition to your Internet protection. This is software that blocks access to inappropriate sites such as; porn, violence and much more. It also has the ability to limit the amount of time your children are allowed online. Cyber Sentinel is a great filtering program. It is very easy to use. But just like with monitoring software there is many to choose from and you will just have to review them and choose which is best for your family.
Parents must continually look out for their children. They are our top priority. We must give our children some trust and privacy. Be realistic though children do not understand the dangers they may face online. Just imagine what you may have done if as a child you had a computer in your room and no one monitored what you did or told you of the dangers. Then decide for yourself if you think your child will make the right decisions, or do you think you should watch what your children do more? Invade their privacy if you have to, you may be saving their lives.