Internet Safety Tips and Facts

Teach safety to avoid danger…

Kids are impulsive and need guidance… And, the Internet is more accessible than ever. The average age of a child carrying a cell phone is 8 years old and one in ten children own a hand-held device that connects to the internet.

The facts are clear…the internet has become the number one medium for communication and information. Nearly all young people have used a computer (98%) and gone online (96%). They spend an average of just over one hour each day using a computer outside of schoolwork (1:02), including about 48 minutes online. In a typical day, just over half (54%) of all young people use a computer for recreation (compared to 85% who listen to music and 81% who watch TV) (Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds. Victoria Rideout, Donald F. Roberts, Ulla G. Foehr. March 2005. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation).

Unfortunately, 29% of children willingly give out their home address, email address, and other personal information when asked. 22% of children between the ages of 10 and 13 are targeted by online predators and this rises dramatically to 77% of children over 14.. Unfortunately, monitoring and guiding tends to drop after the age of 13…a time when they are most likely to encounter a dangerous situation and not tell anyone!

So, what is the solution to keeping children safe… Prevention! And, here are some key tips:

Educate children on the importance of privacy. Define personal information and how to avoid posting anything personal online. Encourage children NOT to respond to any questions containing the words "you" or "your". Focus on the 5 p's - Everything online is Public, Everything online is Permanent, Passwords must be protected, Privacy must be maintained and Profiles should be very general.

Communicate with your young loved ones. Parents who simply talk to children about the Internet and enforce online safety habits display significantly safer online behaviors as their online activities increase. Using a book like The Fox Behind the Chatterbox provides the perfect learning tool and opportunity to discuss this sensitive subject matter in a way that will invite a have a great question and answer time with your child. Here is one expert's review of the book as a communication tool:

"Ms. Matalonis captures all the essential ingredients that a predator utilizes to "lure" our children; entice, groom and engage. She did this in the form of a charming tale that children can relate to and parents and teachers can utilize to educate. This book allowed me to elicit and engage my child in conversation while reading it and long after we turned the pages. I would highly recommend "The Fox Behind the Chatterbox" to educators, counselors and parents alike. It is a book that should be a part of everyone's "toolbox" to help start the conversation in keeping our children safe from the potential dangers of online communication."
Kristen K. Powell, MS, LPC

Monitor how and when your children are using the Internet. What games are they playing? Does the website offer easy chat room access? What are their friends doing online? Which of their friends are using social networking sites? Remember, to be a member of Facebook a child must be at least 13 before enrolling in Facebook.

Enforce specific family rules for using the Internet. Enter into an Internet Safety Agreement that everyone agrees with and signs.

Check emails, instant messaging and social media accounts on a regular basis. Create opportunities to have casual conversations with your teens about their online conversations.