Parent's Guide to Internet Safety

RECOGNIZE techniques used by online predators to deceive.

REFUSE requests for personal information
RESPOND 
assertively if you are ever in an uncomfortable situation online.  Exit the program, log off turn off the computer, tell a trusted adult, or call the police.
REPORT
 to a trusted adult any suspicious or dangerous contact that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Most studies agree that over 77 million people are on the internet within the day.  Almost as many students as there are things to do online.  The internet has many possibilities, and it is easy to get lost.  You must protect yourself from the pitfalls lurking online.  To help you feel safe while using the internet please follow a few of these tips listed below:
                *Guard your identifying information (name, sex, age, address, school, phone numbers, etc)
                *Always remember, responsible adults do not pursue relationships with kids.
                *Make you username and/or online profile generic and anonymous.
                *Know how to exit an inappropriate website.
                *Attachments in emails from strangers can contain viruses and worms.
                *Do not send pictures over the internet to a so called friend.
                *Chat room “friends” are not always who they say they are.
                *Know the rules about downloading etc (Do not illegally download music and movies)

Children today will be the first generation to grow up with the internet.  Technology changes the advantages our children have, it doesn’t change the way you parent.  The rules on the internet change daily, but ultimately you are the one still making them.  If you are Internet illiterate or computer savvy, the tips listed will help protect your children and are easy to understand, follow, and implement:
                *Always keep your child’s computer in an open area.  Never allow a computer with Internet access in your child’s bedroom.  
                *Communicate with your child daily about their computer use.
                *Regularly review your computer files.
                *Teach your child the responsible use of online resources.
                *Talk to your child about online dangers.  Let them know you are there to help them get out of a bad situation.
                *Educate yourself on the ins and outs of the Internet.
                *Talk to other parents about your experiences.  It will help everyone help our children.

A new danger for our children is spreading quickly and it grows with just the click of the mouse.  Sites like myspace.com, facebook.com, etc are cyber sites that many children today keep a secret from their parents.  Children do not take the time to realize that everyone including sexual predators that go on the Internet today will see the pictures and personal information that they post.  Sergeant Brian Donnelly of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office has seen the dangers that cyber sites provide to your children.  Mr. Donnelly says “To keep our children safe, we must discourage them from posting any personal information.  Simply telling our children to not post personal information and to refrain from talking to strangers is not enough.  Parents should teach their child that relationships with adults are both illegal and will lead to failure.  Many parents may feel as if though looking on their child’s cyber site is violating their personal space, but this is not the case as parents we must view this material to ensure that our kids are staying safe at all times. 

Social Networking sites are easy targets for predators.  If a predator has access to the internet they can and will find your child’s profile and messenger information with the simple click of a button.  If your child wants to have any cyber sites it is important that you tell them you must have their password and username at all times.  We can tell our children not to do certain things on the internet until we are blue in the face, but if their friends think that it is cool they will probably try to do it behind your back.  It is important that parents monitor their child’s internet activity daily. 

In order to keep your child safe online follow these simple six steps listed below:
                *Place the computer in an open public room in your home.
                *Come up with an Internet use policy for home and have your child sign this policy.
                *Tell your child no personal information is to be given to anyone without your permission.
                *Spending time surfing the website with your child.
                *Children should never respond to email or chat messages that make them feel uncomfortable or that come from someone they do not know.
                *If someone is asking them for information, they need to report it to you immediately

Internet Safety Programs and Monitoring Software are two programs that will help keep your child safe from Predators.  We would like to take the time to recommend a few of these programs.

Internet Safety Programs

Norton Internet Security                              Defender Pro                                    McAfee Privacy Service 
Cybersitter                                                  Net Nanny                                         CyberPatrol

Monitoring Software

eBlaster                                                       Child Safe                                        Parents Tools for AIMSpector                                                  Sentry PC    

Parents Guide to Cyberbullies

A cyberbully is someone who uses technology to harass, embarrass, intimidate, or stalk someone else.  The methods used can include emails, instant messaging, text messages sent via cell phones, digital photos and all other means of electronic communications. 

The methods a cyberbully could use to harass the victim include the following:
                *Posting of secrets or embarrassing information, including pictures, for everyone to see.
                *Posting of gossip or rumors for the explicit purpose of damaging the person’s reputation.
                *Distribution of message pretending to be the victim in an attempt to damage that person’s friendships.
                *Alienation of the victim from online groups

If your child exhibits the following, it may be a warning sign:
                *Displaying signs of depression, sadness, anxiety of fear, particularly if these signs intensify after your child uses the cell phone or after being online.
                 *Avoiding friends, activities, or school.
                *Experiencing difficulty with school or a drop in grades for no apparent reason.
                *Expressing subtle comments that indicate your child is disturbed or upset

Retaliation may only escalate the problem.  If you feel the need to respond to the cyberbully, help your child develop an appropriate response, asking the cyberbully to stop the behavior.  By filtering email, instant messages and text messages, you can cut off many of the ways the cyberbullies contact your child.  By having your child avoid the sites and groups where the attacks occur, he/she can ignore the bully.  If the harassment continues, then you can change your child’s email address, Internet account, and username(s).

If none of these steps are successful, you may need to take additional action as follows:
                *Compile a copy of all harassing messages and posting.  Save the addresses of web sites where other hostile information, embarrassing pictures or negative messages are posted.  The more documentation you have the better.
                *Contact your child’s school.  Even if the cyberbullying is not occurring in school, officials might be able to assist.
                *If possible, contact the bully’s parents.  Send them a registered letter detailing the messages and asking them to make the bullying stop.  They could be held liable for financial and emotional damages.
                *Finally, if the situation in not resolved, or if physical threats are made, contact the police.

REMEMBER IT IS OUR DUTY AS PARENTS AND EDUCATORS TO MONITOR OUR CHILDRENS ACTIVITIES ON THE COMPUTER.  WE DON’T WANT OUR CHILDREN TO BECOME AN INNOCENT VICTIM OF PREDATORS.