By: Claudia Maroney, Frontier Communications General Manager
The Internet is a useful educational tool for your children and an effective resource to use while working on school projects. With the summer months around the corner, children will use the Internet less for school projects and more for social networking. The Internet can be just as dangerous as it is helpful, meaning it is vital to keep your kids safe while they are online. Over the next two weeks I will share simple steps you can take to protect your children from harmful people and content online.
Establish an open dialogue with your children: Itís important to speak with your children before installing parental control software on your computer. They should understand that the intent of the software is to ensure their safety. With an open dialogue, they will be more likely to come to you if they are experiencing a problem online. Talk with your children about what sites they like to visit, who they like to talk to and let them know you will be happy to answer any questions they may have about the Internet. If they access an inappropriate site by accident, let them know itís ok, and talk to them about the dangers of accessing those sites.
Create a written ďInternet UsageĒ agreement: Shortly after talking with your children, sit down with them and write an ďInternet UsageĒ agreement together. Establish rules for online use and consequences for breaking the rules. One rule might be if anyone in the house, parent or child, is looking at an inappropriate website or having an inappropriate IM conversation, that person is banned from using the Internet for a week and must sit down with the family to talk about his/her infraction.
Place a copy of the agreement next to every computer in the house and make sure each family member signs the contract.
Keep the computer in a public area: By keeping your computer in a highly trafficked area such as the living room, family room or kitchen, you can more easily track your childís online use. You will be able to supervise any activity that may put your children in contact with someone they donít know.
Donít let your children give out personal information over the Internet: Stress to your children that any personal information they give out over the Internet is easy to track and difficult to remove. Ensure that the username and passwords they create are generic and donít reveal anything about them. Talk to your children about the importance of protecting their e-mail address and encourage them to not give it out. Ensure that your children share their usernames and passwords with you so you can easily view their information or remove anything that may cause you concern.
Take time to implement these first steps to provide a safer online environment for your children. Next time in Part II, I will discuss parental control software and the importance of becoming more computer literate and Web savvy. Not familiar with those three and four-letter acronyms in your childrenís Instant Messages? Iíll talk about those terms as well. TTYL! (Talk To You Later!).
If you have any questions about Internet Safety, or if you have any technology questions in general, feel free to contact Claudia Maroney from Frontier Communications at Claudia.firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.frontier.com/.