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Security for children when online
Because we feel that it is of the utmost importance for parents to get involved in their children's online safety, we provide you with a few notes that may help improve children's safety when using the internet.
Help your children use the social networks in a safer manner...
Social networks are extremely popular among younger people.
Thus, it is important to realise what are they, why they are so popular and, above all, how can our children use them in a safe manner.
A few years ago, creating a web page was difficult and only professionals could do it. Nowadays it has become so easy that children find no difficulty in creating and keeping their own page.
These pages are typically hosted in websites of social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Hi5, among other. According to Wikipedia there are at least 132 websites of social networks!
These websites usually keep many data regarding the users, which can be more or less confidential, such as videos, photos, full name, address, school they attend, mobile phone number, e-mail address.
Thus, it is important to use these websites in a safe manner. To do this, please take the following recommendations into consideration:
- Establish rules for using the internet at home.When kids start surfing the web it is important to set clear rules. There should be no doubt about what they should or shouldn't do. The rules should include when and how kids may use the social networks.
- Make sure that the kids obey the age limits set by the websites. Usually the minimum age recommended to use a social network is 13 years of age. If your children are younger, just do not authorize them to use those websites. Unfortunately, there are no effective measures to confirm age when someone subscribes/uses the website.
- Make it very clear to your children that they should NEVER meet someone in person that they only know online. Children may put themselves in danger when they meet face to face with people that they only ever met in the digital world. Encourage your kids to only communicate with their friends and not with people they do not know personally. Take the time to have a direct and clear conversation on this subject because, for many children, the meaning of saying that they should not meet with a stranger may not be clearly perceived, as for them, when they already know the person online they may not consider that person a stranger.
- Make sure your kids do not use their full names.Explain to them why they should not use their full name or the name of their friends, encourage them to use nicknames that do not give a wrong impression.
- Beware of the information included in your kids' profiles. Confirm that your children's profiles do not contain any kind of information that, directly or indirectly, identifies them.
- Take into consideration using a website that has different privacy levels so that not everyone can see everything.Some websites allow the use of credentials so that your children's profiles can only be seen by people they know. For example, MSN Spaces enables viewing permissions that go from everybody to specific people you choose.
- Be especially perceptive regarding photo details.Explain to them that pictures may also reveal lots of personal information and therefore they should not show anything able to identify your child, such as street names, car registration plates school name, etc.
- Be open and welcome communication. Encourage your children to share with you anything that leaves them uncomfortable or feeling threatened. If that happens, remain calm; it is crucial for them to understand that they are not going to get into trouble for sharing that with you.
- If necessary, make a though decision: remove your children's web page if they refuse to follow the aforementioned rules.
12 suggestions regarding blog safety for parents and kids
Having a blog, short for web log, is a fast growing trend, especially among teenagers, who many times create one without their parents' knowledge.
As more and more teenagers create their own blogs the pressure to get followers also increases. Sometimes this may tempt them to post things they should not, such as photos of themselves or of friends.
A brief introduction to blogging for parents.
Although keeping a blog may have positive aspects, such as improving writing and communication skills, it is important to teach your children about the internet and blogging universe before they have their own pages - a bit like taking your driver's license before you start driving.
Here are some suggestions to start with:
- Set rules for using the internet and be active about them;
- Check what your children want to post before they do so. Deceptively innocent information, such as a school or house photo, may be used o identify the blogger;
- Consider (and help your kids do the same) if you are comfortable with disclosing that information and making it available to strangers. When in doubt, it is best not to post;
- Assess the blog management service and see if it provides private blogs protected by password;
- Save your child's blog address and read it regularly;
- Visit other blogs and seek examples your kids can follow.
Basic blog guidelines
The following are just a few suggestions to help you and your children interested in blogging get started:
- Never disclose personal information, such as last name, contact information, home address, phone number, school name, e-mail address, names of friends and family, names used for instant messaging, age or date of birth;
- Never post photos of themselves or of others. Make sure no picture posted lets out any of the data listed above. Don't forget to check the photo's background;
- Assume that everything that is posted becomes public permanently. Anyone with access to a blog can print or save its contents;
- Always use blog providers with clearly identified terms and conditions of use and make certain they can ensure that the blog's contents (not only the user accounts) can be protected by password. (Even when protected like this, you should always assume that anyone can see what is posted);
- Avoid trying to outshine or compete with other blogs;
- Keep a positive blog and do not use it to disrespect or slander other people.
Teach your children to be safer online. The Internet can be an excellent place for children to learn, be occupied, talk with school friends or to simply relax and explore. But, just like in the real world, the World Wide Web can be dangerous for children. Before you authorize your children to use the Internet without supervision make sure everyone agrees on a set of rules.
If you are not sure where to start, here are some ideas about what to talk about with your kids to teach them to use the Internet safely:
- Encourage them to share their experiences online with you. Use the internet together;
- Make sure they know never to reveal their address, phone number or other personal information, such as the school they attend or the places where they like to play;
- Teach your children that the difference between right and wrong applies when online just like in the real world;
- Teach your children to respect other people online.Make sure they are aware that, despite being on a computer, they should also behave correctly and politely;
- Underline the notion that they must respect other people's property online. Explain that making illegal copies of other people's work (music, videos, games and other software) is considered stealing;
- Tell your children they should never meet in person with someone they only met online.Explain to them that friends made online may not be who they claim to be;
- Teach your children that not everything they read or see online is true. Encourage them to go to you when in doubt;
- Control their activity online with advanced internet software. Access restriction controls may help you filter inappropriate contents, monitor the websites they open and see what they do on those websites.