Keep your children safe online

Beth PayneElkin Elementary, School Counselor

September 10, 2012

When I look at the nearly 700 students at Elkin Elementary, I see the future of our community.

They are our greatest asset and deserve to be protected. We easily recognize daily physical dangers but need to become equally cautious to growing Internet dangers and our children’s exposure to cyber predators.

The Internet is an integral part of our society. We check mail, talk to friends, research topics, find statistical data, watch videos, and much more using the Internet each day. However, we can also make a lengthy list of dangers that come from the Internet. As with any piece of technology, we have to take advantage of the good and protect ourselves from the bad. By teaming up with parents, we hope to increase parental involvement and reduce our students’ risk of becoming Internet targets.

• Parents should remember that it is okay to BE NOSEY! Of course, we want to maintain good relationships with our children, but as the parent it is our responsibility to protect our children. Parents should ask questions and be “around” when children use the Internet.

• Parents must BE INFORMED of Internet lingo, website content, and what is being sent/received from Internet accessible devices.

• Families should agree on a “GAME PLAN” for Internet expectations. It is important that all family members agree on what is acceptable and unacceptable. These should be posted and reviewed on a regular basis.

• Parents should require their children to use the Internet in OPEN LOCATIONS. Although this can be difficult with so much Internet accessible equipment, parents should always have an “open door policy” when it comes to viewing their children’s Internet content.

• Take advantage of PARENTAL SAFEGUARDS. Although parental control settings and software are a great resource to protect your children from Internet predators, they should never replace parental involvement.

Basics to remind your child of on a regular basis:

1) Treat Internet strangers like any other stranger – if you do not know them, do not talk to them.

2) Never give out personal information – name (even in your alias “sally2010”), address, phone number, frequently visited locations.

3) Always assume someone else can see you online – your posts and your pictures - always be cautious and careful.

4) Just because your friend is doing it, does not mean you should too…WHAT’S POPULAR IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT AND WHAT’S RIGHT IS NOT ALWAYS POPULAR!

*Recommended Parent Resource: “A Parent’s Guide To Internet Safety” published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide