ID Theft and Cyberstalking are increasing online hazards for both adults and children.
Cyberpredator generally refers to those who stalk children online. You and your kids tend to feel pretty secure as they peruse online interests and conversations in the "security" of your home. But, it's precisely because they operate in your home that cyberpredators are so dangerous.
Here are a few tips that can help keep you and your child safer online.
Keeping Kids Safe Online
- Keeping the logon password hidden works for many---it may be a pain, but having to enter the password every time you logon not only ensures you don't forget it, but means that your child can't logon unless you do it for them.
- Online friends are no different from neighborhood friends. In both cases, you---as parent--want to know who your child is hanging out with.
- Nosey as it might be, screen a younger child's email—Many pedophiles attach child pornography to emails they send to kids they meet online. The purpose of the images is to convince a child that other children are performing sexual acts, and that it's an OK thing to do.
- Computer use should be kept in balance with other activities in a child's life. Outside play, activities with real-life friends, reading, time with family—all are important and provide a healthy balance in a child's life.
- Consider installing and using child protection software to help keep an eye on a child's online activity when they are alone at home. Software can be used to prevent the sharing of pesonal info, and access to inappropriate sites. Clever kids may find a way to outwit such safety methods, but their use is better than nothing at all. Even many browsers have safety settings you can employ.
- Make sure your child understands that the Internet is no safer than real life, and caution is prudent. You don't want a fearful, mistrusting child, but neither do you want a totally naive and foolish one. There's an old saying about folks on the 'Net—"Online, no one knows you're a dog."
Keeping Yourself Safer Online
- ID Theft—it's on the rise. Don't be a victim! Never reveal personal information to anyone you meet online (true name, address, phone, financial info, Social Security, etc) unless in a secure site belonging to an institution you have full knowledge of, and trust in.
- Get a throw-away email account (HotMail, etc) and use it for your online news/chat/listserve activities whenever possible.
- Learn to expand email headers to track down where harrassing email originates, and learn where to report harrassment.
- Do not fall for the spammers' ploy of "Click here to remove yourself from our list"--it'll never work, just tells them they've got a live address.
- Never open or download any attachment unless you are expecting it and know the sender. Many attachments contain spyware that can reveal any private info on your machine to the spyware's sender. Not to mention the usual worms, viruses, and other buggy invaders.
Here are some links you may find helpful:
- ID Theft Resource Center—www.idtheftcenter.org/
- US Government ID Theft site—www.consumer.gov/idtheft/
- Electronic Privacy Information Center—www.epic.org/
- Controlling Personal Information—www.epic.org/privacy/consumer/action.html
- How secure is your Social Security number?—www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs10-ssn.htm
- The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse—www.privacyrights.org/
- Protecting Your Child's Privacy Online—www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0031-protecting-your-childs-privacy-online
- Get Net-Wise—www.getnetwise.org/
- America Links Up!—www.getnetwise.org/americalinksup/index2.html
- O2 Keeping Kids Safe Guide—http://www.o2.co.uk/parents