One technique for helping young children and teens to understand the ground rules of being online is to create an “Internet User Contract.” Here are some of the topics that child safety experts suggest you include regarding Internet usage:
- Never give out personal information such as an address, phone number, or the name or location of a school without parental permission.
- Tell parents right away about any information on the Internet that is frightening or threatening.
- Never agree to meet with someone who you’ve met online without parental permission. Any approved meeting should be in a public place, and a parent should be there.
- Never send anyone a photograph over the Internet without parental approval.
- Don’t respond t any messages that are mean or suggestive. Children should understand that anything that makes them uncomfortable should be avoided and reported to their parents.
An open dialogue about the use of “parental controls” and the ground rules for going online is an essential part of any parent/child “Internet User Contract.” The Internet can provide a wealth of knowledge and useful data. It can also be a vast wasteland of deceit and danger for young minds. Vigilance and rational reasons for “rules” are the best ways to keep your children safe in cyberspace.