Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life
Kids– Online and Safe
December 2002 Issue

Online and Safe

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Time– Safe Time

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in Your Driveway?

Safety in a
Winter Wonderland

Antibacterial Products-
Use Them Wisely

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Kids online and safeThere is no way to deny it - the internet is an integral part of our lives. Research, shopping, and entertainment have been forever changed –with more advances on the way. In order for our children to be competitive in school and in the future job market, they will be utilizing this wonderful resource tool earlier and earlier in their young lives. Here are a few thoughts on how to keep that experience as safe as possible.

First of all, if you are not already online – get online yourself. Be aware of the medium and what your children will potentially be exposed to. Visit "chat rooms" to see the type of dialog that takes place. Try various searches to see how the whole process works.

Teach your children that even little bits of information, innocently given to someone they are talking with online, can put them in danger. Seemingly harmless bits of information about their school, events, and the sports they are involved in, can enable an unknown person online to find your child’s home or school with very little effort.

Although it seems a very negative thing to do, explain to your children that people are not always who they present themselves to be online. It is very easy for an adult to pretend to be another child online. Children are naturally trusting and if they believe they are communicating with another child, a dangerous flow of information can begin.

Teach your children to never give out personal information without asking you first.

Instruct them to never agree to meet or call anyone they communicate with online. Tell them to inform you immediately if someone attempts to contact them.

Inform yourself about "instant messaging" or IMs – real-time messages that anyone can send to your children while they are online.

Realize that innocent searches by your children may return sites with adult content. Alert your children to the possibility and be careful not to blame them when and if this happens.

Remember, your home is not the only place your children have possible internet access. Public libraries, schools, and the homes of friends are other likely sources of internet exposure. Do what you can to secure those locations as well. Make your children aware that the same internet guidelines you impose at your home apply in any other location as well.

Take advantage of the many content blocking software packages that exist. Educate yourself on their abilities and choose the one that is right for your family.

Above all, keep an open dialog with your children about the things they see or hear about online. Make it easy for them to come to you when they encounter adult material and refrain from automatically accusing them of searching out the material. As anyone who uses email or the internet is aware, adult content has a life of its own and a way of finding you – no matter how cautious you are.

Use this wonderful, convenient, and rich tool. With a little planning and education, your child’s internet usage can be free of trouble.

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