Protect your children online now!
How to keep your kids safe when they are online? - Crime-Research.org carries out an online research and gives professional objective recommendations
There's no need to argue that Internet is a great place for kids and teens.
It is like a huge city available directly from your home computer, the city with its own libraries, universities and museums, places to have fun and opportunities to meet people from all walks and ways of life. But just like any big city, it has its own dangers and hazards, places that are not appropriate for kids and people they should avoid. Being parents as you, we are even more concerned of our kids' future and present, we do not want them to come in touch with dangerous illegal and unsolicited experience neither online nor working with computer in general.
In a recent Roper Starch study, 25 percent of parents said their children were coming online as early as age 2, with that number increasing to 60 percent by age 6.
Most parents assume that pornography and sexual predators are the only dangers their children face on the internet. While these are certainly a huge concern, there are other dangers lurking in the dark corners of the net.
These include the following: areas that foster hate crimes, sites that teach children how to make bombs and other weapons, forums to discuss the best ways to commit suicide, sites that encourage the use of drugs, and even areas where children watch others take drugs via webcams. The John Walsh Show recently aired an episode where teenagers watched as a young man died from an overdose of drugs. You can view more about this by clicking here.
As parents, you need to know the dangers that exist on the internet, and arm yourself with the tools and rules to prevent your child from becoming a victim. Here are several other examples of the kind:
May, 2004 - a 20-year-old admitted downloading a stash of child pornography on to his computer before peddling it to other internet users. Nathan Weedall, of Hungerford Terrace, Crewe, kept 176 indecent images and 10 indecent video films of children to be shared online. He gave the images names including Little Ones Nude, Kiddy Child Porn and Five-year-old rape close-up. One picture involved a sadistic act on a young girl. It was rated as the most indecent possible on a five-point scale. (http://www.crime-research.org/)
May, 2002 – a 13-year old girl was murdered in Connecticut by a man she met through an online chat room. Police said that the girl, who was a captain of her school cheerleading squad and an altar girl, used almost a dozen provocative screen names on the America Online account she accessed from the computer in her bedroom, and routinely had sex with partners she met in various chat rooms. (http://www.ananova.com/)
An extensive list of links to such stories can be found at http://www.wildxangel.com/ – a website devoted to adult and child safety online and to risks and hazards of Internet dating and even simple surfing.
Less shocking but even more harmful frequent stories are often related to disclosing the parents' private data (such as names and credit card numbers) to strangers and non-secure websites or doing something that violates another person's rights and can be subject to legal prosecution.
How parents can reduce the risks?
While children need a certain amount of privacy, they also need parental involvement and supervision in their daily lives. The same general parenting skills that apply to the "real world" also apply while online.
No doubt, the best way to ensure your child's safety in the cyberspace is to be with him/her all the time they are connected to your ISP. But this is not
always possible and moreover, can cause your children's objections when they grow into their teens. What are the possible solutions? What can be done to prevent at least some of the possible dangers and harms? Can you help while away? Here's what Crime-Research.org can offer.
First you should consider installing on your computer a filtering software, which blocks access to dubious or possibly harmful websites.
But filtering software is designed mainly for blocking access to adult sites and hardly can help to solve the issues of online communication and other problems we have already mentioned above.
You can never tell in advance what kind of communication will be safe for your kid and which can turn to be dangerous. There is, of course, a draconian approach that involves blocking access to online forums and chat rooms completely, but it doesn't seem to be very wise, because it carries huge social disadvantages depriving kids of activities that are very important for their personal development and limiting their personal rights.
A solution can be found in using various kinds of monitoring software to ensure your child's safety. This kind of software is a tiny utility that stays resident in computer's memory and invisibly writes to a special log file all keystrokes so that you can easily see what your child writes while being online (i.e. you can track all communication via e-mail, instant messaging software, chat rooms etc), records all websites visited, e-mails, clipboard, and will take screenshots
in specified intervals showing all specific activity your kid had.
This software helps you accomplish the following tasks:
- Monitor all websites visited by your children
- Invisibly record all online conversations your child has
- Log instant messengers and chats to prevent your children from having dangerous online friends
- Capture all typing your children do
- Monitor e-mailing activity of your child, so you can know to whom they are communicating via e-mail and which topics they discuss
- Make regular screenshots and stay aware of what your children are doing when they are alone
Here are a few warning signs when you should consider installing monitoring software:
- Your child quickly changes what is on the screen when you walk in the room.
- Your child stays up late at night talking to friends online.
- You notice links to sexually-explicit or inappropriate sites in the history section of the browser.
Surely, we couldn't cover all aspects of child safety online in such a tiny article, but rather just outlined some problems and suggested possible solutions. It's up to you to decide, what methods to choose and how to ensure your child's safety on the information superhighway.