October 25, 2011

The Cyber Sharks Are Circling: Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe On-Line

Many people are surprised when they see our kids snorkeling with sharks or flying through the forest canopy on a zipline. “Isn’t that dangerous? Weren’t you worried about their safety?” they ask. The answer is no. These activities take place in a fairly controlled environment with a history of safety records. Plus, I am there looking over their shoulder making sure everything is alright. The sharks that do worry me are the cyber sharks. The tough kid at school being mean; the stranger approaching them with candy…with the advent of technology, these villains now enter our home. And with technology changing so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up. How do I keep them safe from something I don’t even fully understand…texting, sexting, cyber bullying, cyber predators? It’s all kilobytes to me.

The first key to keeping them safe on-line is to talk to them about what is appropriate to share. Don’t share more than a first name. Don’t tell an on-line friend where you live or what school you attend. But as much as we tell them, does it ever really sink in? I was watching a YouTube video made by a child from my kids’ school. She was walking around her house, filming her room, her pet hamster, giving a constant narration about her life. It all seemed innocent enough until she held up her report card. Not a big deal right? Just a kid venting about grades and school, but the report card envelope had the school logo and the child’s address on it. When I paused the video, I could see where this kid lives. I’m sure it never even dawned on her that she was sharing information, but there it was as clear as day. Directions for any predator in cyber space to this girl’s house. As much as we tell them not share information, there are ways the information is released without them even realizing it. So what can we do as parents? According to the University of Oklahoma Police Department, who released a brochure called “Keeping Kids Safe On-Line”, parents should:

- Know their child’s email username and password
- Keep the computer in a family area where supervision is easy
- Talk to the child about what is discussed and what sites they are visiting
- Tell the child to log off and tell a parent immediately if they feel at all uncomfortable with something happening on-line
- Give feedback to sites and service providers about inappropriate content or advertisements
- Warn your child about how easy it is to pretend to be someone you are not on the Internet and the dangers that go with that.
- Tell your child to inform you if anyone ever asks them to meet in person.
- Invest in a program that provides parental controls for on-line use.

So, beyond talking about it, which is always good, how else can we protect them from technology? Travel With Kids recently partnered with a company called MouseMail.com that offers filtering programs for e-mail, texting and social media. Parents and kids can work together to create an approved list of contacts and parents have the ability to check on their child’s activity. The filtering system also scans all the incoming e-mails, texts and social media posts for inappropriate content. If the system detects bullying, sexting or other inappropriate scenarios, an alert is sent to parents. Inappropriate emails are actually diverted to parents before they even reach their children. I am really impressed by what this company is doing to help parents keep kids safe on-line. The program allows kids to take advantage of technology while offering parents the tools to protect them from the dangers that lurk in the cyber sea.

As my kids get older and enter the on-line world, it gives me peace of mind knowing that there is someone who can stay on top of the rapidly changing technology and help me protect my kids from the cyber shark, so I can focus on enjoying my time snorkeling with the real ones who are far less dangerous in my opinion. For more information on this program, visit MouseMail.com

11 comments:

Drina Murphy said...

The internet is quite a scary place when you have kids but I do believe one of the best things to do is to educate them and talk to them yourself. There are some great tips on here though:)

kherbert said...

In almost every case where a child has been targeted on line either the predator knew the child in real life and was targeting even without the on line part - or they were teenagers acting in very dangerous situations.

Like stranger danger the internet boogie man is looking in the wrong direction. The people most likely to harm a child are - Parents, other family members, clergy, and other people who have authority over them (teachers, scout leaders, coaches etc)

cheap travel system said...

Nice blog!In some way internet is good for kids because they can learn many things as sometime parents don't know about,it can only be harmful if kids misuse it.But parents should be careful about all the activities of their children.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cheap Flights to Gaborone

phool chand kumawat said...

Nice insightful post. Thanks for sharing the information.Bed and Breakfast Jaipur

danvalley52 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wilma said...

Great advice, the internet is a dangerous place for the naive. You must use common sense to keep yourself safe. Great job educating them early.

cathay travel said...

Your website have very interesting article. I got knowledge from here. Besides that, your blog is so popular among the searchers from search engines.

free videos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sufiyan Khan said...

Very Nice Blogs. I Like To See And Read.

Toronto Airport Taxi

The Airport Taxi said...

Its such a nice & Awesome blog provide info
hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you’re talking about. Can’t wait to read more from you!
for more plz visit The Airport Taxi
Toronto Airport Taxi
Mississauga Airport Taxi
Oakville Airport Taxi
Pickering Airport Taxi
Oshawa Airport Taxi
Scarborough Airport Taxi
Burlington Airport Taxi
Hamilton Airport Taxi
Richmond Hill Airport Taxi
Vaughan Airport Taxi
Kitchener Airport Taxi
Whitby Airport Taxi
Etobicoke Airport Taxi
New Market Airport Taxi
Waterloo Airport Taxi
King City Airport Taxi
Aurora Airport Taxi
Guelph Airport Taxi
London Airport Taxi
Milton Airport Taxi
Ajax Airport Taxi
Niagara Airport Taxi
GTA Airport Taxi
Barrie Airport Taxi
Brantford Airport Taxi
Markham Airport Taxi

Toronto Pearson Airport Taxi said...

Really Very Nice Blogs. Toronto Pearson Airport Taxi
Toronto Pearson Airport Taxi Services
Toronto Airport Taxi
Pearson Airport Taxi
Toronto Pearson Airport Taxi Rates