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4999 Park Ave. West

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Ten Great Ways to Keep Children Safe Online

The Internet is a dream come true. Or is it? A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of New Hampshire found that 42% of Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17 say they have seen online pornography at least once in the past 12 months. Ready for the kicker? A staggering 66% of those exposed to it say they stumbled onto the material unintentionally. Compound this with the fact that online child predators abound and identity thieves are lurking in nearly every corner and you soon realize that the pleasant dream we like to call the Information Highway could easily turn into your worst nightmare!

Statistics like these certainly make the Internet sound bleak and uninviting, but just like anything else in life, we are often forced to weed out the bad in search of the good. Using the Internet is no different and you should not let the bad stuff keep you or your kids from experiencing the virtual wonders of our world. The tasks you can accomplish online these days are seemingly endless. You can pay your bills, chat with friends on the other side of the globe, and even find instant answers to the most detailed of questions all from within the comfort of your own home. So how do you shield your children from all the Cybernasties out there yet still allow them to take advantage of this amazing resource? Read on.

1. Do your homework. Take the time to read the Privacy Policy closely for the sites your children are visiting. This will tell you what type of information, if any, the sites collect and what they do with the data. If you come across a website that does not have a Privacy Policy, or does not have basic information regarding they way they protect their visitor's information, contact the site operator directly to request this information.

2. Hold their hand. For those new to the web, it can be beneficial for them to surf with an adult for a while before navigating on their own. This approach allows them to observe the right way to use the Internet and helps them to develop good surfing habits.

3. Set boundaries and enforce them. Take the time to educate your children on what constitutes a website that is acceptable for them to view, and what types of sites they must refrain from visiting. Be up front with them and let them know that a violation of this rule will result in the loss of their Internet privileges.

4. Install Internet filtering software. Considering the fact that two thirds of all children that come across offensive material online do so accidentally, it is a good idea to install software that blocks it from showing up on your computer in the first place. While not foolproof, Internet filtering software can provide an extra layer of protection for your children. Be sure to install and configure the software properly for maximum security and protection.

5. Tell them never to meet with strangers. Teach your children that they should never get together with anyone they have met online unless an adult you trust accompanies them. It is important that they also know why they should never do so, and what could happen to them if they choose to disobey.

6. Help them learn to be cautious. Share with your children that it is unacceptable to give out personal information online without checking with you first. This includes home and school phone numbers and addresses, as well as sending pictures via email or chat sessions.

7. Keep them suspicious. Your children should know that people they have met online might not always be who they say they are. Someone claiming to be a 12-year-old girl could easily be an adult looking to kidnap a child.

8. Teach them to run away. It is going to happen. Expect it. Eventually your children will cross paths with objectionable material, receive a questionable email, or have a chat session turn toward an uncomfortable topic. Let them know in advance that this stuff can happen, that it is not their fault, and that they should log off the Internet immediately and notify an adult.

9. Stay informed. Keep ahead of the game by regularly visiting websites devoted to online child safety and subscribing to their newsletters. Six great resources to get you started:

ALA Great Websites For Kids -

GetNetWise -

iSafe -

Net Family News -

SafeKids -

SafeTeens - -

Download A Dinosaur -

10. Go with your gut. If something seems fishy about a particular website, chances are your instincts are sending out red flares for a reason. Better to listen to your conscience and keep your children safe than to suffer the potential consequences of looking the other way.

Safe surfing!

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Medina, Wadsworth, Lodi, Seville, Chippewa Lake, Westfield Center, Sterling, Creston, Burbank, Norton

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