The internet has been nothing short of a mini revolution in our everyday lives. There are many positive aspects such as information becoming more accessible aiding school coursework / homework, large distances between family and friends have become small; you can now even order your shopping online, find out the latest football scores, pay your bills, check your bank balance and listen to the last lecture held at Hyderi!
However we have also been subjected the other side with discriminating web sites; unsuitable graphical images “popping” up and, as recently reported, children making “friends” with adults posing as children, only to have fatal consequences.
Short of switching your computer off, there is no guaranteed set of actions that will completely protect you or your family from being subjected to such risks. The internet is just another medium, like television, newspapers and magazines all of which have their positive and negative aspects. However, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the dangers and allow the internet to become an enjoyable and educational tool within the home:
1. Be careful, when online use standard ‘netiquette’ rules:
a. Always have good manners and be polite when talking to someone else online
b. Ask your parents to spend time with you while online so that you can show them some of the neat things you can find online.
c. Only use the Internet when your parents tell you it's OK, and only for as long as you are supposed to.
d. Don't give out personal information like your address, telephone number or school name to anyone unless you have permission from your parents
e. Never meet with a cyberfriend unless your parents go with you or you have their permission to go alone.
f. Don't break copyright rules by taking words, pictures or sound from someone else's Web site without their permission.
g. Don't respond to any e-mail messages you get if they are strange, mean or upsetting to you, and tell your parents or teachers right away.
h. Don't send pictures of yourself or your family to anyone unless you have permission from your parents.
i. Stop right away if you see or read something on a Web site that upsets you and tell your parents or teachers about it.
2. Install a pop-up-blocker: This prevents annoying and unsuitable “pop ads” from appearing on the screen when you are surfing on the internet. The majority of Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) provide these, a couple of the most popular free downloads can be found at:
a. MSN http://toolbar.msn.co.uk/
b. Google: http://toolbar.google.com/
Simply install the toolbar and choose the option where it asks to block pop-up ads.
3. Use the “parental control features” with your ISP: -.Many responsible sites give their sites a rating for the type of content the show, a bit like films/videos (PG, 12, 15, 18, etc), which can be detected by the parental control features supplied by ISP’s such as AOL or MSN.
4. Take an interest on the sites that your children are visiting and who they are communicating with. Online programmes such as MSN Messenger or AOL chat are great to chatting with family friends but alongside chat rooms these are potential dangerous places were some adults pose as children to make friends with them.
Typically in families when it comes to technology the children often know as much, if not more than the parents, but by good communication between the two this problem can be overcome. If you are worried of what your child is doing online, please talk to someone, it is better to be safe than sorry.