The chances of a child accidentally stumbling across inappropriate material are slim, as most sites now clearly post warnings. Before permitting access, many adult sites require visitors to register and provide a credit card number to verify their age. Unfortunately, the media focus on sensationalism can obscure the fact that cyberspace teems with exciting resources for both adults and children--one reason why Internet access is a top priority for schools around the world.
Just like in the real world however, parents should exercise supervision. Of course this is easier said then done, particularly when children may be more comfortable with computers than their parents. If this sounds like you, don't be intimidated by the technology. After all, you don't have to understand how an internal combustion engine works to drive a car. Obviously if a six-year-old can use a computer, you can too. Many libraries, community centers and colleges offers hands-on training, so take the time to familiarize yourself with the technology. Or ask your kids for help!
To prevent children from becoming victims, consider these guidelines:
Tip #1: Use common sense. Don't just get them an Internet account and turn them loose.
Tip #2: Monitor their activity. Ask them which sites they visit and why. Set-up the computer in a common area so you can keep an eye on things. Check the web browser's History file to see what sites they access.
Tip #3: Set limits. It's up to you to determine how much time they spend online.
Tip #4: Use filtering software. Although not perfect, you can block selected websites. Among products to evaluate are:
A free service can be found at www.we-blocker.com
Tip #5: Agree upon a few rules:
Don't give out a credit card number online or via e-mail.
Don't divulge personal information without your approval.
Make sure they let you know immediately if they encounter any material that makes them feel uncomfortable.
If you require any help or have any questions feel free to call our office. We can be reached locally at 570-988-1800 in Sunbury or 717-274-3300 in Lebanon or outside the local calling area at 1-866-311-5900. We can also be reached by email 24 hours a day at firstname.lastname@example.org.