4 Dangers of the Internet
Protect your kids from cyberbullying and exposure to sexual predators with these Internet safety tips from the experts.
Internet Danger #2: Sexual Predators continued...
Internet Danger #3: Pornography
One of the worst dangers of the Internet, for many parents, is the idea that
pornography could pop up and surprise their children. But parents may not
realize that some kids are going online to seek out web porn, too.
You can view the Internet browser history to see which websites your child
is visiting, Shehan says. But since kids can delete this history, you may want
to install Internet filtering software to block porn sites in the first
Software filters aren't a perfect solution; some nasty sites can slip
through, while educational or family-rated sites may be blocked. So while some
parents may wonder whether monitoring means they're spying on their kids, the
safety factor often wins out. "If you get the monitoring software, put it on
the computer and forget that it's there," Aftab says. That way, if someone's
viewing porn, you'll have the records to deal with it.
Internet Safety Tips
- Install Internet filtering software to block porn sites from any computer
your child has access to.
- Consider using filtering software that monitors and records instant
messaging and chat room conversations, as well as websites visited.
- Consider using a monitoring program that filters pornography keywords in
several languages. Why? Because some teens have figured out how to get around filters by
typing in porn-related search terms in other languages.
Internet Danger #4: Damaged Reputations
Camera phones, digital cameras and web cams are everywhere these days, and
kids can be victims of their own inexperience with new technology. Many post
pictures, videos or notes online that they later regret. "Think before you
post, because once you do, it's going to be up there forever," Shehan says.
A child's online reputation is a growing concern, Aftab says, with the rise
of online social networking and profiles. She cites reports of schools and
employers rejecting young people for high school programs, internships, college
admissions and jobs after checking out what applicants have posted online.
Many teenage girls put up provocative photos of themselves, Shehan says.
Why? Handy - a teenager herself - believes it's a game of one-upmanship. "Kids
are trying to look cool. They're doing it because everyone else is doing it. A
girl will see a picture and say, 'Oh, I can top that.' And before you know it,
she's half-naked on the Internet for everybody to see."
Internet Safety Tips
- Explain that even if your kids delete their posted photos, others may have
already copied them into public forums and websites.
- Tell your kids not to let anyone, even friends, take pictures or videos of
them that could cause embarrassment online - such as if a relative or teacher
- Talk to your kids about possible consequences, the experts say. A
17-year-old might think it's hilarious to post a MySpace photo of himself
looking drunk, with empty beer bottles strewn around him. But will a college
admissions officer be impressed? Probably not