51. Chat Room Safety.
If children use chat rooms, encourage them to stay in the public chat area instead of engaging in private chat. There is safety in numbers, and in a public chat area (as in the real world) a Good Samaritan is likely to jump in if someone is being targeted or threatened.
Curious teens may want to view pornographic photos or videos. Talk to them about their interest and explain to them about why they should not visit those websites. Use parental control software to block these sites if necessary.
53. Follow Age Limits.
Most websites require that registered users be older than 13 years old. Follow these limits; they are there for a reason. Sites that are geared towards teens and adults may include photos or language inappropriate for young children. Pornographic websites and websites for tobacco companies often require that visitors be over age 18, and alcohol manufacturer websites require visitors to be older than 21 years of age.
54. Kids Social Sites.
If your child wants to join a social networking site, suggest those specifically designed for kids, like Webkinz or Club Penguin. These sites offer gaming and a social atmosphere in a kids-only environment. They also have built-in privacy features, like the use of an avatar instead of a profile photo.
55. "Friend" Your Kids.
Create an account on the same social networking site that your child uses and become one of their friends. This will allow you to keep an eye on what they do, as well as monitor the activity of their friends.
56. Social Networking Privacy.
If your child uses an adult social networking site, teach your child how to use the privacy features so they can keep personal information private. Set up their pages so friends can only be added with their consent. Unless someone is a confirmed friend, he or she will not be able to view any of the details of your child's page.
57. Instant Messaging Privacy.
Help your child set up an instant messaging profile that only allows people from a buddy list to see when he or she is online. His or her status will remain invisible to strangers, which will eliminate messages from unknown users.
58. Protect Your Child's Friends.
Review websites and blogs that belong to your child's school friends to ensure that they too are protecting their own privacy. Let the friends' parents know if you notice any postings or activity that could pose risks.
59. Time Limits.
If Internet use becomes excessive or replaces normal socialization and activities, install a program that sets limits on time spent online and blocks access during specified hours. Programs that enforce time limitations can be found online, and many parental control software programs include time limit features.
60. Follow Website Policies.
Most websites include a terms and conditions page that may include rules of conduct in discussion boards or use of copyrighted materials. When a child registers with a website, read these policies together to ensure your child understands the expectations.
61. Beware Classified Ads.
Although children may like to browse for sale/wanted ads on Backpage or Craigslist, do not allow them to respond to the ad directly. Instead, a parent should initiate the communication.
62. Check Their E-mail.
Log in to your child's email account from time to time to ensure they are following the house rules of Internet conduct. Check both incoming and outgoing messages for anything unusual.
63. Avoid E-mail Spam.
Reduce e-mail spam by limiting the websites your child registers for using an e-mail address. Also, teach children not to reply to junk e-mails. Most e-mail programs have spam filters that will automatically delete pornographic or bulk advertising messages.
64. Email Preview.
Set email preferences so messages do not display unless clicked on. When the content of e-mail messages displays automatically, your child may see explicit photos or messages that they had no control over receiving.
65. Photo Downloads.
Tell children not to download pictures or videos from unknown sources. Although they may be labeled innocently, these files could contain viruses or display pornographic materials.
66. Research Safeguards.
Learn about the filtering programs and protections used anywhere your child accesses the Internet, including at school, at the library or a friend's houses.
67. User Names.
Require parental approval of children's nicknames for websites, chat rooms, and online games. Be sure that the name does not contain too much personal information and that it does not include slang or references that are inappropriate for a child. If an avatar is used for certain websites, also ensure that it is tasteful and age-appropriate.
68. Be Wary of Strange Messages.
Hackers and e-mail viruses can operate under-recognized identities, so teach children to be aware of any strange e-mails, even if the sender's name is familiar. Examples of strange messages include attachments with odd file extensions or incoherent words in the message body. Treat these messages as they would ones from unknown senders.
69. Protect Others' Email Addresses.
To avoid sharing away e-mail addresses of friends and family, do not allow children to let social networking sites scan their e-mail address book.
70. Go Direct.
Instead of using a search engine to access sites, have children type the URL directly into the address bar or use a bookmark. This will eliminate the possibility of offensive or unrelated sites being accessed from a web search.
71. Search Engine Filter.
Using a filtering program can help eliminate inappropriate results from a web search. Without a filter, a web search can bring up material that children should not see.
72. Assume Permanence.
Teach children to operate under the assumption that everything they post online is permanent and can be found by predators or hackers even after deletion. While social networking pages and websites can be deleted, people who know how to find it can still access the information.
73. Blog Privacy.
If your child wants to write in a blog or web diary, find a site that allows private and password-secured blogs. Blogs with privacy protection will ensure that your child's personal profile is not revealed. Modify the blog settings so comments cannot be added to posts; this will reduce spam and negative or offensive feedback.
74. Positive Examples.
Find content-appropriate blogs made by other children as an example for your child to model his or hers after. Good examples may be blogs centered on a favorite sports team, television show, or hobby.
75. Review Their Posts.
Screen your child's writing or photos before they are posted online to ensure that they do not include too much personal information. Watch out for less obvious identifiers, like school mascot names and names of friends.
76. Protect Emotions.
Blog and dairy content can include very personal topics. Ask your child if he or she is comfortable sharing the content with strangers before they post it. If he or she is not sure, do not post.
77. Be a Detective.
Perform occasional web searches for your child's name, address and other identifying factors to see if they have posted any personal information on a website. This research can also help you determine if your child started a website or blog without your knowledge.
78. Watch for Obsessive Behavior.
E-mail and social networking can become an addiction for adults and children. Watch for signs of obsession, including constantly wanting to check for new messages or frustration when not able to access the sites.
Be aware of blog posts or discussion board comments that show emotional vulnerability. Not only are these what Internet predators look for, but they could be signs of emotional stresses and troubles that your child is not comfortable sharing with you.
Bullies no longer exist only in the classroom. Oftentimes, the same child who bullies a child in person will begin to bully online through chat or instant messages. Look for signs of cyberbullying, like a child becoming upset when online or a not wanting to go to school.
81. Golden Rule.
Don't allow your child to bully or gossip about others online. Even though the interactions are not in-person, the same rules of conduct and respect should apply. Have disciplinary consequences for not treating others kindly.
Do not allow your children to pretend that they are someone else online. This includes not listing their actual age on social networking sites. Instead of lying, teach them to use privacy controls to hide information and not answer questions that make them feel uncomfortable or would require them to reveal personal information.
Do not allow children to download, share, or duplicate copyrighted software or music without paying. Even if your child is not distributing the material further, use of pirated software and music is still illegal. Explain that it is stealing and there are serious legal consequences.
84. Block File-Sharing.
File-sharing network sites often distribute copyrighted material. The unknown source of the download creates privacy and virus risks. Many file-sharing software programs also place a file on your computer that allows others to receive files from you, with or without your knowledge.
85. Use Voice Chat With Care.
Some online video games allow for voice chat. Be sure that if children participate, they follow the same rules as in a text chat room and do not divulge personal information to strangers. Keep in mind that predators may disguise their voices to sound like children even though they are adults.
86. Encourage Playing with Friends.
Recommend that your child play online games and chat with friends from school and other activities instead of exclusively communicating with online-only friends. Knowing everyone personally creates the safest environment for online play.
87. Know the Games.
Become aware of the games your child plays on-line. Understand the rules, content, and average player age. Playing games with your kids is a good way to get involved in their online activities without appearing too intrusive.
88. Minimize Fees.
Many online video games have monthly service fees that children may not know about until parents receive the bill. Steer your kids towards free games that do not require submission of personal credit card information.
89. Prohibit Gambling.
Remind your children that it is illegal for minors to gamble online. Even though it's not real money, discourage use of non-monetary casino gambling games (like free poker and blackjack), as they still operate around a wagering system that can lead to actual gambling in the future.
Young children should not use the Internet without supervision. Always stay with young kids while they are online to answer questions and eliminate the possibility of wandering onto an inappropriate site.
91. Role Model.
All members of the family members should act as positive role models for children who are just beginning to use the Internet. Everyone should follow the same rules of conduct with respect to safety concerning the sharing of personal information. Parents especially should practice what they preach with regard to software piracy, pornography, and chat rooms.
Discourage teens from using websites to meet potential boyfriends or girlfriends. These sites are intended for adults, and many have niches that may not be appropriate for anyone younger than 18 years old. In addition, people are not always what they seem, and these romance sites are a haven for Internet predators.
93. Review Browser History.
Take a look at the history of sites visited to see where your child went online and what they did. Confront them with indiscretions or questions you have about their web browsing activities.
While webcams can be useful for video chat with friends or long-distance relatives, ensure that children use the device appropriately. Children should avoid video chat with strangers because of the physical recognition factor. Review your child's videos before they are posted or distributed to others.
Explain the dangers and legal consequences of children and teens sending each other nude or partially nude photos via the Internet. Once the photo is sent by the originator, he or she has no control over what other people decide to do with it. Remind them that once something is posted online it can travel quickly and be seen by many people, including family, friends, and teachers.
96. Look for Signs of Misconduct.
If a child or teen quickly closes a browsing window when you enter the room or you find that browsing history has been deleted, it is often a sign that he or she is not following the rules. Children rarely hide good behavior. Find out what is going on and discipline accordingly.
When a child uses online resources for homework assignments, be sure that they do not copy other people's ideas as if they were their own. Explain plagiarism and the consequences it will have at school. If you suspect that your child has used someone else's content, several free plagiarism-detection services exist online.
98. Sibling Enforcement.
Teach older children to protect younger brothers and sisters online and to tell parents if they are engaging in any potentially harmful activities. Younger children often look up to older siblings and are comfortable learning the ropes from them.
99. Respect Others' Privacy.
Teach children to respect the privacy of others by not reading e-mails intended for other people. Also, teach kids not to add someone to a mass-mailing e-mail distribution list without asking first. This also goes for forwarding jokes, chain letters, or e-mail rumors to people who don't want to receive them.
100. Teen Identity Theft.
Teens may not realize that they are candidates for identity theft because they usually do not have bank accounts and credit cards. Explain to your teens that they still need to safeguard their personal information, not to avoid loss of current assets, but to protect their credit from other people opening accounts in their name.
101. Block Outgoing Content.
If children are not mature enough to follow rules about not providing information to websites, software programs are available to block users' outgoing content. These programs would allow children view-only access to websites.