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Guest Column: Internet safety for your family

March 30, 2013 | By | Comments More

SJSO-K-9_2840Guest Column: Internet safety for your family

Devid B. Shoar, Sheriff
St Johns County, FL

The Internet is such a fascinating place to learn, work, and even play for both adults and children alike. But it can also be a dangerous place for children if they are not taught about Internet Safety.

The challenge for parents of children using the Internet is to stay “one-click” ahead of would-be pornographers, hackers, child-predators, and anyone who would misuse your and your child’s sensitive information. I am hopeful that the information contained in this column will enlighten you and get you the resources you may need on matters pertaining to the Internet and computer crimes.

Here are some helpful tips for parents. Learn about computers so you can monitor your child’s use of them. Spend quality time with your children, thereby reducing their dependency on computer technology for recreation, communication, and companionship.

Keep your family computer in a common area of the house. Don’t EVER allow a child to give out personal information on-line, not real name, address, or phone number. Don’t allow a child to meet someone face-to-face they have met while on-line. Remember that people on-line may not be who they seem, a “12-year old girl” may actually be a “40-year old man.”

Though they are not fool proof, consider purchasing and installing a pornography blocking software package. Periodically check the Web sites your children are visiting and look at files they are storing. If you become aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography while online, immediately report this to your local law enforcement agency or the U.S. Customs Cyber Smuggling Center at 1-(800) BE ALERT or by e-mail at icpicc@customs.treas.gov.

I would like to pass along some tips for you to discuss with your children that use the Internet. Never give out personal information such as your address, telephone number, parent’s work address, or telephone number or the name and location of your school.

Be sure to tell your parents if something that you come across on-line makes you feel uncomfortable. Never agree to get together with someone you “meet” on-line without your parents’ permission. If your parents agree to the meeting, be sure to meet only in a public place and that your parents go with you.

Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable. Give a copy of such a message to your parents and have them forward it to your Internet Service Provider.

Never send pictures of yourself or any other personal material to a friend you meet on-line without telling your parents first. Be sure to follow the rules that your parents set for your on-line activities.
There are places on the Internet that are for adults only. If your child finds themselves in one of those areas, guide them to leave immediately and go to one of the cool places on the Internet for kids.

Don’t give out personal information about your family situation, school, telephone number, or address. If someone harasses you on-line, says anything inappropriate, or does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, tell your parents right away.

Here are some helpful links for parents to Internet Safety websites:

http://www.getnetwise.com
http://www.theinternetandyourchild.org
http://www.learnthenet.com
http://www.missingkids.com

I hope that these tips will help you and your family has a good and useful experience with the World Wide Web.

For additional tips on Internet Safety as well as general Crime Prevention please go to the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office website at http://www.sjso.org. There is a world of information available and please feel free to contact me anytime by e-mail at dshoar@sjso.org. Thank you.

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