2Welcome We are first-generation Internet parents • Our children are the first generation to be born and raised with the Internet as part of their everyday lives• Our children know more about the Internet than we do!Good evening. My name is [name]. Thank you for joining the [name of school] PTO for tonight’s presentation, Keeping Your Child Safe on the Internet.As parents of school-age kids, we have the unique honor of being what experts call “first generation Internet parents.” What does this mean? It means that our children are the first people in the world to be raised with the Internet as a normal, everyday part of their lives. Not surprisingly, many of us are uneasy as we try to understand the impact this medium has on our children and families. We know it’s up to us to make sure our children use the Internet safely and wisely. Yet many of us aren’t quite sure how to do that. Especially since our children tend to know more about the Internet than we do!
3Goals for Tonight • To understand what our children are doing online • To keep our children safe when they’re online• To teach our children to make smart choices when they’re onlineWhich brings me to the goals of this presentation. First, we’ll discuss what children are doing online. Knowing what draws children to the Internet is the first step toward understanding its impact. Second, we will show you some things you can do as a parent to help keep your child safe online. And finally, we’ll talk about the importance of teaching your child to use the Internet wisely. Because at some point, your child will be going online without your supervision. And just as you need to know that your child understands basic safety rules before you’ll allow him to cross the street alone, you should be assured that your child is prepared for whatever he may encounter online.
4What Children Do Online • Visit virtual worlds• Talk with one another using instant messaging (IM’ing)• Post profiles and communicate with others on social networking sites• View and post videos• Play multi-user games• Do researchSo, what are children doing online? The answer depends on their ages, but in general, kids use the Internet to visit online worlds like Whyville, Webkinz, and Club Penguin; play games with people who they may or may not know; IM — or instant message — each other, on cell phones as well as through the computer; use social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, where they can post profiles of themselves and communicate with their friends; view and post videos on video-sharing sites like YouTube. Oh, and of course the Internet is our kids’ first stop when they’re researching a homework assignment or school report.
5Virtual Worlds • Popular virtual worlds • Some are better than others >> Webkinz>> Club Penguin>> Whyville• Some are better than others• Visit and play yourselfFirst, let’s take a closer look at what kids are doing online. We’ll start with online worlds. How many of you have children who go to online worlds like Webkinz and Club Penguin? [wait for show of hands]More than half of the children who use the web this year are likely to belong to a virtual world. And the universe is expanding, with Nickelodeon, Mattel’s Barbie, and other major brands establishing their own virtual worlds.Most virtual worlds work like this: a child joins by creating an account and choosing a virtual character. Most virtual worlds are free to join, though some extend extra privileges to paying subscribers. As a “resident” of the virtual world, your child plays games, earns virtual money, and uses it to buy clothing, furnishings, and other merchandise for her character. Players can chat and play games with other players. Sites geared for younger children restrict communication to pre-written messages. Some virtual worlds allow children to compose their own messages if they have parental permission, but block inappropriate words and combinations of words that may reveal a child’s identity, address, phone number, or other personal information.As with anything else, some virtual worlds are better than others. Just as you wouldn’t allow your child to visit a new place alone in the real world, you should take a “trip” to check out any virtual world your child wants to join. The best of the virtual worlds have a strong educational component. But many of them emphasize consumerism and can give children the impression that money is easy to acquire and life is all about spending it to accumulate more and more “things.” If that isn’t one of your values, take time to talk with your child about being financially responsible.
6Social Networking Sites • Popular social networking sites>> Facebook>> MySpace>> Xanga• Users create “profiles”• Communicate with friendsSocial networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are very popular with teenagers and young adults. But increasingly, older adults are joining these sites. Social networking sites allow users to create profiles — or pages — where they post photos of themselves, list their interests and their likes and dislikes, post favorite songs and videos, play games, and communicate with friends. After a user creates a social networking profile, they build a “friends list,” inviting people they know and others who share their interests to view their profile. Friends lists can quickly grow to hundreds of people as friends link one another to their own networks of friends.Most social networking sites have age limits, restricting use to teenagers 14 and over, for example. But these policies are essentially meaningless because there’s no way to verify a user’s age.Teenagers especially are drawn to social networking sites because they allow them to “try on” different personalities at a time when they’re experimenting with their identities. These sites also serve as a virtual hangout, allowing teenagers to socialize with lots of people. And we all know how important friends are to teenagers.
7Instant Messaging• Allows children to “talk” with friends at any time on the computer• IM’ing and cell phone text messaging has replaced as a preferred method of communicatingInstant messaging – or “IM’ing” — allows people to send each other messages over the computer in “real time.” Cell phone texting is also popular among children, teenagers, and young adults. To use IM, users choose a screen name and add friends to their “buddy lists” so when they log on, they instantly know who else is logged on to their computers at the same time.Many Internet service providers offer instant messaging software as part of their packages. The software is also available for free through the Internet. Cell phone providers offer text capability for a fixed price per month, or on a “pay as you go” basis. Most children and teenagers prefer texting and IM’ing to or the telephone.
8Video-Sharing Sites • Popular video-sharing sites: >> YouTube>> Vimeo• Users view and post videos• Post and read comments about the video contentVideo sharing sites like YouTube are also very popular. Users can create and post their own videos and view those posted by others. These sites also allow users to comment on and/or rate videos. YouTube and other sites restrict pornographic and other objectionable material, but because it’s up to users to report violations, viewers may be exposed to inappropriate material.
9Online Games• Consoles like Xbox Live are increasingly connected to the Internet, allowing kids to play against friends and strangers• Many allow players to talk in real time using headsets and microphones• Kids may be exposed to “trash talk” or worseOnline games allow people to play against others who they may or may not know. While this has added a social dimension to playing video games, it also adds an element of risk. Many online games have text or “voice chat” capability, allowing players to talk with one another during the game. Xbox Live has safety features that allow players to mask their voices. But children can still be exposed to profanity, harassment, and worse.
10Dangers Online • Disturbing content • Cyberbullying • Sexual predators Now, let’s look at the dangers of the Internet. What are you most worried about as parents? Dangers to children who use the Internet include cyberbullying and viewing inappropriate or disturbing content. The danger that frightens parents most, though it’s much less common, is sexual predators.
11Sexual Predators • Masquerade as other children or kindly adults • Trick children into revealing personal information• Lure children and teenagers into meeting them in personOnline sexual predators are people who use the anonymity of the Internet to portray themselves as children or kindly adults. Their motive is to get children and teenagers to reveal where they live or go to school, or trick them into meeting face-to-face. These incidents get a lot of media attention, but fortunately they’re rare.
12Keep Personal Information Private • Never reveal>> Name>> Address>> Phone number>> School name• Don’t post or send photographs of yourself• Choose a nondescript screen nameOne of the reasons why incidents involving online predators are rare is because children have listened to the warnings of parents and other grownups and have learned to become alert to the dangers.It’s vital that you teach your child never to reveal personal information online, such as his name, address, phone number, age, and the name of his school. Your children shouldn’t post pictures of themselves or send them to anyone who they don’t know personally — and that means anyone other than a close personal friend or a family member. If your child has a profile on a social networking site, check it frequently. Sometimes well-meaning friends will post messages or photographs with identifying information. Make sure your child knows to remove any identifying postings from his page, and to be careful about naming friends and others in photographs that he posts himself.Also, make sure your child’s screen name isn’t provocative or descriptive in any way. Even something seemingly innocent, such as “Littlecheerleader,” can be a tip off that the screen name belongs to a young girl.
14If a Stranger Contacts Your Child • Make sure your child knows:>> Don’t respond>> Contact an adult right away>> Block the offender• Notify your internet service provider, if warrantedIf someone suspicious does contact your child, make sure your child knows not to respond. He should also tell you right away. Save the message in the event you decide to notify your Internet service provider. Remember to use your privacy controls to block the person from contacting your child again. If the person sends a photo of himself or asks to meet in person, contact the police.
15Cyberbullying • Posting or forwarding a private IM or email to others • Tricking someone into revealing embarrassing information and forwarding it to others• Spreading malicious rumors• Stealing passwordsCyberbullying means using the Internet or other communications technology such as a cell phone, to tease, harass, threaten, or intimidate another person. It can happen via instant messaging, on online games, on social networking sites, video-sharing sites — virtually anywhere on the Internet. It can also happen through cell phone text messaging. Some examples of cyberbullying are:-- Posting or forwarding a private instant message or to others.-- Tricking someone into revealing personal information, then forwarding it or posting it where others will see it.-- Forwarding or posting embarrassing or unflattering photos or videos-- Spreading malicious rumors about classmates and others-- Stealing passwords and using them to lock the victim out of his own account, to change the content of the account, and/or to post or send messages from the account while pretending to be the victim.
16Protecting Against Cyberbullying • Never respond to unkind remarks• Don’t participate in cyberbullying• Block the cyberbully• Tell a trusted adult• Save the posts• Notify law enforcement, if appropriateCyberbullying can be just as hurtful as being pushed around in the schoolyard or being called names at recess. In fact, it can be worse, because it happens to children when adults aren’t around, and it happens in their own homes — the very place that should be a refuge from hurtful behavior. The anonymity of the Internet often emboldens bullies to say and do things they would never say or do face-to-face. And the victim may never know who is harassing him.Talk to your child about cyberbullying before it happens so he or she will be prepared if it happens. Teach your child:-- Never respond to taunting or teasing online. Fighting back will only make it worse.-- Never reveal personal or potentially embarrassing information in an IM, , or other online posting—even to a close friend. Before your child puts anything online, he should ask himself how he would feel if his classmates, teachers, principal, parents, and the rest of the world were to see it. If he wouldn’t want anyone else to see it, he should keep it to himself.It’s also important to remind your child not to use the Internet to hurt other people. Not only is it wrong, but it’s illegal to harass or threaten another person by any means, including on the Internet.If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, make sure she blocks the cyberbully from her account to prevent further contact. Your child should save any communication from the bully and tell you or another trusted adult right away. You may decide to file a complaint with your Internet service provider. Most ISPs have strict policies against cyberbullying and can revoke the privileges of the bully. If the problem is severe, consider contacting your local law enforcement agency.
17Inappropriate Content • There are “bad” parts of the Internet, just as there are “bad” parts of town• Shield your child with:>> Parental control software>> Child-friendly search engines>> Bookmarks to favorite sites• Teach your child what to do if he accidentally views disturbing contentThe very same feature that makes the Internet such an amazing resource — its ability to give us instant access to vast amounts of news, information, and viewpoints — can also expose our children to frightening and disturbing content. Children who misspell a web address or click on the wrong link might stumble onto pornographic images and text, hate speech, or other inappropriate content. So, how can we protect our children from accidentally seeing or reading disturbing content?-- We can use special blocking and filtering software to keep our children from seeing inappropriate content.-- Bookmark your child’s favorite sites so she can easily find them (and will be less likely to stumble onto inappropriate sites).-- Teach your child to use search engines designed specifically for children. We’ve listed these on a special handout.-- Check your web browser’s history to learn what sites your child has visited. If you find that your child has spent time viewing inappropriate sites, talk with your child about this and remind him about your rules.Make sure your child knows to turn the monitor off immediately and to tell you or another adult if she sees something disturbing. If this happens, try not to overreact. Instead, use it as an opportunity to discuss your values about what’s right and wrong and reassure your child that it’s not her fault that she saw something “yucky” online. Your child will be more likely to report objectionable material she sees online if she knows she won’t be punished for it.
18Basic Ways To Keep Your Child Safe • Sign an “Internet Safety Contract”• Keep the computer in a “public” area of your home• Set a time limit for computer use• Become familiar with the sites your child visits• Know your child’s online “friends”• Know your child’s passwords• Keep your antivirus software up to dateHere are some basic rules for using the Internet. These will help keep your child safe:-- Have your child sign the “Internet Safety Contract,” which we’ll hand out tonight.-- Keep the computer in a family area where you and others can easily see the monitor.-- Set a time limit on computer use. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of screen time for all electronic media, including computer, TV, and video games.-- Know which sites your child visits. Check them out before you let your child go on them.-- Know who your child socializes with online. Check your child’s buddy and friend lists to make sure no one is on them that your child doesn’t know personally.-- Write down your children’s passwords.-- Keep your antivirus software up to date to protect your computer from viruses and malicious software programs.
19Basic Internet Rules for Children • Never give out identifying information• Never write or post anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with the whole world seeing• Treat others online as you would treat them in person• Never share your password• Never open an or click on a link from someone you don’t know• Never download or click on anything without checking with me or another adult firstInternet use should be contingent on your child agreeing to the following:-- Never give out personal information.-- Never write or post anything online that you wouldn’t want your classmates, teachers, principal, parents, and grandparents to see.-- Treat others online as you would treat them in person.-- Don’t share your password with anyone — not even your best friend-- Never open an from someone you don’t know-- Never download or click on anything without checking with me first
20Resources Free Internet filtering software • NetSmartz • AllSafeSites • K9 Web ProtectionFree Internet filtering softwareand parental controls• NetSmartzOnline safety tips for parents and kids• AllSafeSitesA child-safe Internet search engineHere are some resources that you should know about. These are all listed on the Internet Safety Resources handout. K9 Web Protection sponsored this presentation. Their site offers free Internet filtering software and parental controls. NetSmartz is a website with information, tools, and tips about online safety. AllSafeSites is a search engine with sites that have been reviewed to make sure they’re safe for children.