A long time ago, when I was still in college I create a presentation for one of my classes called “Keeping Kids Safe Online”. This presentation went as far as to show how easy at the time it was to find child porn online. That is not the purpose of today's post, as I am sure we all know how may predators use the internet.
Instead what I would like to talk about are some simple tips to teach your kids. Keep in mind no matter what you do they will be courteous. Sometimes best way to prevent a problem is my ending the curiosity. For example I once knew a Scouter who said “the best way to prevent kids from playing with guns is to take them out to a range, teach them how to use the weapon safety, and then let them fire it. This way their curiosity for the object is controlled, and they also build a respect for it.” The same can be said about the internet to a certain degree. Obviously we may not purposely show our kids porn, a site about how to make a bomb or even a site on making drugs – though they all exists... I think you get the point. Like anything what works for one kid will not work for another, it is up to us as parents to make that judgement call.
Here are a few things I do recommend...
Teach them what they are and are not allowed to share online such as their full name, email, phone number, address, what school they go to, or even where their Scout group meets.
How to identify suspicious emails and what to do with them
What to do if someone in a chat room or other virtual social environment makes them feel uncomfortable
How to tell what websites are trustworthy and which are not
Help them understand that someone online could be pretending to be anyone else
As a parent you should always be aware of what you child is doing on the computer, not just online. Keep in mind the software to control what they can do is governed by binary rules. This means like any computer program there is a way to get around it. I have actually had a 13 year old Scout once tell me they not only know their mothers password to disable the child safe program, but also know other ways to shut it off or get around it. Of course the mother had no idea.
What and how do you teach your kids and Scouts about being safe online?