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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 place.

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 saw them.
  • 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

 

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Reviewed on June 01, 2007

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