Internet Safety help for Parents
From our urban centers to remote villages, Alaskans are wired. Chances are that your children are too. Today's children will never know a world without the Internet, and have forged several new paths to this exciting destination. They include:
Any of these tools can lead your children to the Internet. But what's the big draw? Once online, where do kids go?
- computers... at home, school, libraries, friends' homes, and local "hot spots"
- cell phones
- video game consoles
There are enormous benefits to all of these destinations, and the next generation will be expected to use many of these tools in their everyday lives. But there are risks as well, and as a parent you have a right to be concerned that the Internet could open the door to inappropriate content, uninvited strangers, and cruel cyberbullies.
- Social networking sites. Places like myspace, Xanga, and Facebook are popular stops for today's students. These sites allow users to post messages to each other, view photos, create online profiles, and much more.
- Email. Children can easily create free email accounts and use them to correspond with friends and family.
- Web browsing. Kids love to "surf the 'net"-for research, entertainment, and more.
- Blogs. Blogs (or "web logs") are online diaries that anyone can read. Many students use blogging features within their social networking sites, but it's also easy to create a stand-alone blog to share your thoughts, photos, and videos with the world.
- Peer-to-Peer Sites. These sites allow users to share and exchange files from one computer to another. Users commonly share music and video files in this manner, and copyright laws should be carefully considered.
What is a parent to do? Pulling the plug on the Internet is not a realistic solution: it is too easy for students to get access, may cause rebellion, and will not equip kids with the skills they need. You can try to limit online access to specific sites that you deem safe, but with millions of new sites coming online each day, you will find yourself facing a never-ending battle.
Education is the answer. Visit the Resource Links to learn more about the risks and benefits of online activities. Don't be intimidated if you don't understand all the terminology or feel baffled by the chat abbreviations your child uses: you can find a translation at the Terms and Acronyms link. Take time to create an online Safety Pledge that fits your family's needs. And finally, if you decide to invest in Filtering Software you will find plenty of good information and resources in that section of this site.