Children are at particular risk when they are on the Internet. It is easy enough for a child to remember basic safety rules in real day to day life, but the Internet allows many dangers to be hidden. Careful consideration should be given before allowing your child to access the Internet.

What are the dangers?

We've all heard the stories. A child meets someone online that pretends to be another child, and sneak off to meet them only to be kidnapped, molested, and/or killed. But it isn't always as straightforward as that. There are many things children can be exposed to that will harm them in more subtle ways as well.

Children can very easily stumble into websites that show graphic pornography. Unlike the old danger of a child finding magazines, the images and sites available online include such things as graphic sex acts, video, and extreme perversions including torture and bestiality. This can happen much by accident, as simply searching for innocent terms on search engines may have the results mislead to sites that redirect you to pornography sites.

Hatred, Violence and Cult Sites
The Internet has given a very large audience to people espousing extremely hateful, bigoted, and violent topics. On the Internet you can find many racist groups and violent protest groups. Children can even find step by step instructions on making bombs and other tools of violence.

Deception by Others
It is very easy to pretend to be something you are not on the Internet. You can even offer to send a "picture" of yourself to prove you are a child, teen, etc. Of course, you can send any actual picture you want. Children are very trusting in general and more apt to believe what seems to be a truth. Children can be mislead by other children or adults wishing to do them hard or exploit them. Child pornographers, molesters, and even cults recruit children off the Internet.

So you say your child wouldn't have the ability to meet someone on their own without your knowledge? They don't have to. An 11 year old can easily let enough information slip for someone to appear at their school and pretend to be a family friend (giving enough info gleaned to pass the charade off).

How do I know if my child is ready?

The first thing you must do is be an active guardian while your child is on the Internet. Internet access is not a baby-sitter. If you are not prepared to properly watch over your child while they are accessing the Internet then it should not be allowed in your house. Children are curious by nature. You are the best judge of your child, but even the most trustworthy child can still encounter bad content by accident. There two approaches. The first is to surf the Internet together and lock the computer securely when you are not around. The other method is to install filters and guards, and have any access to chat logged and filtered.

If your child must chat, then look into AOL as your Internet access provider. They have setting that you can restrict your child to moderated chat rooms only. Make sure Immediate messaging is turned off and only allow e-mail from confirmed addresses that you know. The filtering tools on AOL make it an excellent option for parents that can not watch over their children on the Internet 100% of the time.

Another option is to purchase and install the many filters available for filtering content on the web.

How could my actions and my child's school's actions endanger my child?

Be careful about exposing to much information about yourself and your family online. Many people have registered sites that tell all about their family. In addition to exposing information that could lead to people breaking your passwords, you could also provide information for predators to use to get to you or your children. If someone says they are a family friend and know a bunch of personal information about you and your children, your child could be persuaded to go with the predator. Use a code word system with your child. In case of emergency, your child should not go with anyone that does not know the code word.

Watch your child's school as well. Many schools inadvertently publish too much information about children online. Check your school's website constantly, and if they are exposing too much information, have them contact us for safety education that they can use and that they can disseminate to the other parents.

General Guidelines

The Internet and computer, like TV should not consume a child's time. Yes, as parents, it is nice to have peace and quiet, but your child needs to build social skills. The Internet is not the place to do that.

If you find yourself intimidated by computers, check out local classes. Often times, computer training facilities offer free Internet access classes. Local technical colleges and community colleges offer help as well.

Set your computer up in a public family area, so your child can not work on the computer unseen. The bedroom is the worst place to put your child's computer.

Watch your child online, or use AOL with the advanced filtering if that is not possible.

Do not let your children chat online unless it is monitored in some way. IRC is not the place for children under any circumstances unless you are sitting with them.

Teach your child the dangers of the Internet and make sure they feel comfortable telling you about any problems they may have.

Set strict limits on the amount of time your child spends online.

Never give out any information about yourself: real name, address, school, work, telephone number or unmonitored e-mail addresses. Remember that if you have a domain name of your own it takes about 60 seconds to find the name address and phone number for the person that registered the site.

Do not complete profiles that some online services provide.

The Internet can be strongly addictive to people that may feel detached from society or lonely. Many children going through normal insecurities may find the anonymity strongly addictive. Enforce limits.

Remember, if you do not understand how to properly monitor your child on the computer, do not trust your child to do it for you. Get help.

The links below are for software to enable you to monitor & or log your childs activity on the Internet and also the ability to block services such as MSN, ICQ, AIM, FTP and more.

Cyber Sentinel Filtering Software
Cyber Sentinel is the most advanced child protection software package available. As parents, we cannot be present to continuously monitor a child’s computer activity. Cyber Sentinel was designed with this in mind and it provides a unique proactive model for analyzing, monitoring, filtering, and blocking undesirable, predatory, and sexually explicit computer traffic. Cyber Sentinel is a different approach to traditional site blocking technology by protecting children in any on-line activity and to giving parents a visual record of explicit communications or ventures into adult areas. This includes: chat rooms, news groups, email, instant messaging, sexually explicit web sites, downloaded documents, and even documents attached to email. Our child predator library is a feature that was developed in conjunction with several law enforcement agencies. The words and phrases used in this library are taken from actual on-line investigations. If predators are a concern, simply enable the child predator library.

Find Out What Your Family Is Doing Online!

IamBigBrother 7.3 will monitor your children in Instant Messages, Chats, Emails, Web Site URLs and much more while undetected from the user. We test many of these and this is the best one available today. Not only do you see what your child types online but what is said back as well. It monitors both incoming and outgoing activity - no other program offers this feature!

With four distinct recording tools, Spector Pro is the quickest, easiest and most detailed way to monitor and record Internet and PC activity. All four tools are combined into one powerful application featuring: the original Spector VCR-like snapshot recording and the new Email recording, Chat/Instant Messaging logs and sophisticated Keystroke journals.

In addition to monitoring and recording, Spector Pro has an advanced warning system that will inform you when a PC being monitored has been used in an inappropriate manner. Through the use of keywords that you specify, Spector Pro will be "on alert", emailing you an immediate and detailed report of when, where and how a keyword was used - every time it is typed or appears on the PC, on a website or in an email.

Combine visual snapshot recording, email recording, chat recording and keystroke recording with INTELLIGENT & INSTANT Notification when content you specify is encountered, and you have the most POWERFUL Monitoring and Surveillance software you can buy anywhere!