Staying Safe Online
There is no definitive list of websites which are safe and not safe due to the sheer size of the internet. Although some modern browsers link back to a database online and warns you if you are attempting to visit a site known to be unsafe. To help you keep safe we have compiled some information to help you [+].
Golden Rules For family Internet usage
- Keep personal information confidential. For example don’t give out your name, age, or phone number.
- Get to know the services and websites that your child uses.
- Don’t believe everything you read or see online.
- Encourage children to tell you about anything they find that is suggestive, obscene, threatening or makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Don’t immediately blame the child if they receive or access something obscene – this may have been done accidentally.
- Use the Internet as a family activity and if possible, keep the computer in a family room rather than in a child’s bedroom.
- Try to get to know your child’s online friends as you would their other friends.
- Try not to use the PC or the Internet as an electronic babysitter.
- Set your own golden rules and after discussing them, stick them at the side of the computer.
- Enjoy surfing!
The quickest easiest and safest way to navigate the internet is by knowing the address of the site you wish to visit, but this can be a very impractical method of navigating the World Wide Web. Many search engines offer a ‘Family-Friendly’ search by default, although you should not rely on this as your only solution. Many websites contain an age restriction stating if a site is for persons of a certain age, although the checks done to gain access just ask for a date-of-birth or a simple ‘are you 18, YES / NO’. Programs such as ‘NetNanny’ and ‘CyberPatrol’ offer a live protection against site content, but this kind of software has being proved to block genuine sites and still allow illegitimate sites.
Only download files from trusted sites, if you are suspicious of the legitimacy of a website don’t download any files from it.
Internet Chat Rooms
Internet chat rooms are by no means a bad thing, like the rest of the web they offer many valuable resources, and contain a great deal of educational value but beware there are certain chat sites that will prey on the young and venerable.
There are a few ‘child-friendly’ chat services that insist on registration beforehand to keep out solitary adults. One service which offers a protected place to chat is Gridclub, a popular UK service for 7-11 year olds that requires children to register through their schools and that uses trained moderators.
IM (Instant Messaging)
Whilst instant messaging applications can be an important part of collaborative work there are also many risks that this software can offer too. Parents remember you have no way of knowing who your child is talking too, and more importantly, sometimes nor do they! The child can be exposed to foul language or inappropriate sexual content. It is important to remember that some children have actually being arrested for producing and sharing pictures of themselves, with the person they sent it to also being arrested for being in possession of child pornography. It is important to monitor use of internet messaging use via chat logs and checking ‘Received files’ folders (contained in ‘My Documents\My Received Files’ with the chat history also being contained in a subfolder here – True for MSN Messeger and Widows Live Messenger). Whilst anti-virus programs do scan IM applications they are not fool proof and do rely on being up-to-date.
Important Rules of Thumb for IM Applications
If you get added by someone you don’t know be cautious about giving away personal information. Not Real names (or at the very least no real second name). Don’t give away where you live, country and county are ok, but never town. Never accept files being sent by an unknown ‘IM Buddy’