FEBRUARY 3, 1997
Child safety on the Internet: a guide for parents
The King County Library System has two brochures and a homepage link with a list of issues and tips for guiding and teaching your child about the Internet. Highlights from those sources are included below.
What are the risks?
Exposure to inappropriate material.
Physical molestation, if your child provides information to a contact.
Harassment, either by e-mail or in chat-rooms.
How can parents reduce the risks?
Online services and providers allow parents to limit their children's access to certain services and features. There are also programs such as Netnanny and Surfwatch designed to enable parents to prevent children from accessing inappropriate materials on the Internet.
These tools are not foolproof, but help control access, though they cannot take the place of parental involvement and supervision.
If you have cause for concern about your children's online activity, talk to them. Also seek out the advice and counsel of other computer users in your area.
Internet crimes are infrequent or not reported, and denying children access altogether because of the risks is impractical. Experts suggest helping your child to be "street smart" in order to better safeguard themselves in any potentially dangerous situation.
Rules for a child's online safety
- I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents' work address/phone number, or the name of my school without my parents' permission.
- I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
- I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and I will bring my mother or father with me.
- I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
- I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do, I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the online service.
- I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online, deciding on the time of day, the length of time, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.