June is Internet Safety Month here at the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay. While we always remain focused on child safety, this month we are paying particular attention to keeping children safe online and educating their parents on ways they can help. Throughout the month, club members will be participating in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s NetSmartz program in which they will learn about some of the dangers of the Internet and social media and how to protect themselves. There will also be discussions and other activities centering on this theme. June 27th has been designated as Internet Safety Day and we will have a guest speaker address club members and their parents. In the meantime, have a family discussion on the following Top Ten Internet Safety Tips that can help protect you and your children from online dangers:
1. Educate Yourself
Take time to learn about online dangers and best practices so you can protect yourself and then educate your children how to protect themselves. If parents know the dangers themselves, this sets an example to the child to understand them as well.
2. Personal Information
Do not give out personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, age, schools, or other personal information online that you do not want others to see. Consider anything you post online as public information.
Never give out your passwords (except parents should know their children’s passwords) and be sure to change it immediately if you suspect it has been compromised.
4. Protect Your Computer
Be certain of the source before downloading or installing software. Do not open attachments from emails you don’t recognize, even if they are addressed to you. It could contain a virus that may potentially put your family’s privacy at risk. Keep your computer’s antivirus up to date.
5. Be Friends
Insist that your children be “friends” with you on social media sites such as Facebook so that you can better know what your children are doing and who they are doing it with. Also, make sure you and your children really know all of the people you are friends with. Too often it becomes a competition of who has the most “friends” and people are added to a friend list without really knowing them.
6. Other Devices
Treat other devices such as smart phones and tablets as you would a personal computer or other online device. Set expectations and limit their use to help ensure safety.
7. Meeting in Person
Under no circumstances should you meet a stranger whom you’ve met online face-to-face. This person may not be who they seem and might wish to do harm. Even if someone seems nice, there are people that pose as someone they are not in order to get you to let down your guard. If there ever is a situation that you feel there is absolutely someone you must meet in person, make sure to meet in a public place and bring someone with you (an adult if you are a child).
8. Cyber Bullies
If you are ever threatened or made to feel uncomfortable by someone online, report it immediately. Children should report incidents to their parents. Adults should contact their local law enforcement to file a report.
9. Photos and Videos
You should never post personal pictures or videos online that you do not want the world to see. Most of us are aware of the term “going viral” in which a picture or video quickly spreads across the Internet. Once out, there is nothing anyone can do to make sure it is completely removed.
10. Open Lines of Communication
It is important to build an open and trusting relationship between parents and children. Parents must set expectations on acceptable use and children must understand that an online life is a privilege and not a right. Also, parent must convey to their children that it is their job to protect them and that they do not want any harm to come to them. Children must be comfortable to come to their parents whenever a problem may arise.
You can find these tips and many more at The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: http://www.missingkids.com
Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay