June is Internet Safety Month and is a time in which awareness is raised to make certain that our children stay safe while online. As a computer education teacher, it was part of my curriculum and personal duty to teach my students about cyber bullying, luring and stalking as well as being safe on the Internet.
It is never too early to teach your child how to be safe online. In fact, when I first started teaching computer education (about 9 years ago) my first job was teaching preschoolers. You better believe I taught them all about Internet Safety. When presenting the "Keep Safe While Online" concept to younger children, closely tie it to the stranger danger concept. Example: Never give anyone your full name, address, or phone number. If you instill this concept at a young age, it will soon become second nature. Just as the 'Stop, drop and roll' fire safety slogan rolls of their tongues- yet how many of them will ever catch on fire. Prepare them for the what-ifs.
It is very surreal to older children that an actual human being actually exists on the other computer. Sometimes they have an alter-ego while on the computer and firmly believe that no danger may exist. I would often propose the following scenario to this age group: "You are at the park and a gentleman in his 30's approaches you. He says his name is Jim, that he is 14 and goes to a local school. He likes to play soccer, hang with his friends and eat French fries." I would ask: "Would you give this man your name, phone number or address? Would you feel comfortable meeting him somewhere alone?"
More times than not, I got the response "But you said he was 30 so he looked 30 right? Then no, I would not give out any of my information to him." Pleased with this response, I then would compare it to being in a chat room. Only this time he sends a photo that he cut and copied from online. The connection is then made.
You cannot possibly be over your child's shoulder in every situation over the Internet. Your best defense? Teach them and educate yourself about Internet Safety. Some quick tips for you to discuss with your child:
- Never give out any personal information with anybody that you meet online.
- Never share your password, but please do so with your parents.
- If something someone says makes you feel uncomfortable, turn off your computer screen and tell an adult.
- Never, and I mean NEVER meet anybody that you meet online!
For further information, please visit the sites below. It is a great reference for you as a parent and for your child as well!
If you are interested in learning about educational software to help teach your child about Internet Safety, please do not hesitate to contact me.