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Teaching Your Child About Internet Safety

1 Teach your child never to provide any form of personal information online that someone could use to track him or her down. This includes first or last names, birth date, city or state of birth or residence, family or sibling names, telephone numbers, and addresses.

2 Teach your child to report any bullying behavior to you immediately so you can report that person to the proper authorities.

3 Online predators can appear to be everything a kid is looking for and may even send gifts or money to further emphasize the relationship's importance. Teach your child never to accept these kinds of advances or gifts even if the giver appears to be thoughtful and kind.

4 Teach your child never to make assumptions about who they are chatting with no matter what the person may look or sound like. Bottom line: tell your child never to agree to meet with anyone they have met online.

5 View all pictures before they post them to the Internet. Backgrounds in photos can provide location details that you don't want to disclose. Don't allow them to post photos of themselves which may catch the eye of a predator.

6 When creating online names for blogs and Web pages, have them choose something that does not indicate gender or reveal who they are.

7 Don't judge critically when you see something bad. Let your children know to come to you when they see something like that and not feel that they have to hide it from you. If children think that you will not allow them to use the Internet any longer, they may just hide that much more.

8 Surf together often to get a feel for your child's interests and habits. This becomes a great opportunity to demonstrate places that you do not approve of or things that should be avoided.

9 Become computer savvy with your children. Like street smarts in the real world, knowing the dangers of the Internet can help to avoid them. Give age-appropriate knowledge. A good rule of thumb is to tell them of the same dangers you would in the real world and safeguard them with the same persistence.

10 Be cautious with e-mail. Send e-mail only to those people that you know and trust. When your child sends an e-mail, the person who receives it gains a wealth of information about where it came from. There are reverse e-mail searches where you can type in an e-mail address and find out who it belongs to. The fact that this technology exists is enough to advise caution.

11 Set clear rules and guidelines for what sites they can visit, how long they can be online, and who they can communicate with.

The Internet is a wonderful, useful tool that we simply can't afford to deny to our children, but you must know what you're up against and keep your children safe. Your children might not understand the importance of online safety and reputation and how it can harm them in the future. That is why it is important to monitor their online behavior so they don't become a victim of cyber bullying or have a negative online reputation.

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