Child predators adapt to their surroundings and find ways to come into contact with kids. While the internet can be a positive tool for education, it's also a platform for online predators to find new victims. Parents need to be diligent if they are to protect their children from these people.
Tips for Online Safety
There are steps you can take to protect your family from online predators. While some of these suggestions will be easier to implement with young children, they are a good starting point to get you thinking about online safety.
- Create a password to get into your computer. PC users can do this by going to the computer control panel and clicking on the user accounts icon, then click on change account or the computer administrator icon. From there you can create a password. Mac users can set up a master password once they start using their computer and often set it to enable automatic login. For info on resetting passwords for administrators and other users, visit the article from Mac support in the related links section at the bottom of this article.
- Give kids lower level accounts, not administrative access. If you don't, then they can change your password and have access to other computer functions. Again, PC users would go to the control panel as above and click on create user account. Enter the user name. On the following screen, be sure to click limited access.
- Talk to your kids honestly about what kind of predators are out there and how they use the internet to contact victims. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples you can find to give them.
- Create boundaries such as a time and day limit for internet use and stick to them.
- Practice what you preach. Your kids may think that if you're acting like a teenager online, especially at social networking sites, then why should they act responsibly?
If you're concerned about online predators contacting your kids at social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, you might consider purchasing software that allows you to block websites and monitor what your kids are doing. Some popular software programs include CyberPatrol, McAfee Family Protection, SafeEyes Parental Control Suite, Family Cyber Alert and Net Nanny.
There are also free services such as KeyLogger and KidLogger. Some of the features of paid software and freeware are that they allow you to monitor what's being typed into your computer keyboard at each website. K9 Web Protection by Blue Coat is a free service that allows you to block websites and entire categories of content.
An excellent resource for learning how to keep internet activity safe is the GetNetWise website. On the site, you will find articles, blog posts and video tutorials on how not only to keep your kids safe but also how to protect your personal information. Taking these small steps now may create that extra wall of protection to keep your family safe from online predators.