Children present unique security risks when they use a computer — not only do you have to keep them safe, but you have to protect their data on your computer. By taking some simple steps, you can dramatically reduce the threats.
- Keep your computer in a central and open location in your home and be aware of other computers your child may be using.
- Discuss and set guidelines/rules for computer use with your children. Post these rules by the computer as a reminder.
- Use the Internet with your children. Familiarize yourself with your children's online activities and maintain a dialogue with your child about what applications they are using.
- Implement parental control tools that are provided by some ISPs and available for purchase as separate software packages. Remember - No program is a substitute for parental supervision. Also, you may be able to set some parental controls within your browser. Internet Explorer allows you to restrict or allow certain web sites to be viewed on your computer, and you can protect these settings with a password. To find those options, click Tools on your menu bar, select Internet Options, choose the Content tab, and click the Enable button under Content Advisor.
- Consider software that allows you to monitor your children's email and web traffic.
- Consider partitioning your computer into separate accounts - Most operating systems (including Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux) give you the option of creating a different user account for each user. If you're worried that your child may accidentally access, modify, and/or delete your files, you can give him/her a separate account and decrease the amount of access and number of privileges he/she has.
- Know who your children's online friends are and supervise their chat areas.
- Teach your children never to give out personal information to people they meet online such as in chat rooms or bulletin boards.
- Know who to contact if you believe your child is in danger. Visit http://www.getnetwise.org/ for detailed information. If you know of a child in immediate risk or danger, call law enforcement immediately. Please report instances of online child exploitation to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children's Cyber Tipline. Even though children may have better technical skills, don't be intimidated by their knowledge. Children still need advice, guidance, and protection. Keep the lines of communication open and let your child know that you can be approached with any questions they may have about behaviors or problems encountered on the computer.
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