A study recently done by the Internet Safety Technical Task Force as been published. They have a Final Report that was published December 31, 2008. The report is written to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States, but it has a section in it for recommendations for Parents and Caregivers (page 38).
Here are the suggestions they give for Parents and Caregivers, I am paraphrasing.
- Parents and caregivers should educate themselves. Learn what the internet is, and the ways that their children us it.
- Parents and caregivers should explore and research technologies that they can use to help with the threats children encounter on the internet. (One thing we do as a family is have all our internet traffic use a service called opendns. This service blocks websites that are tagged as adult, and you can add to the list.)
- You should discuss internet usage with your children, and an early age. Don’t wait for them to find the stuff you don’t want them to find. Let them know what they can and can’t do on the internet.
- Don’t just focus on the hypothetical dangers on the internet. Discuss the common risks with your children and keep open lines of communication about the Internet.
- Know who your kids are hanging around with, and the at-risk kids in your neighborhoods. Help them get help and be aware of the at-risk behaviors that could affect your children.
- If you need help as a parent or caregiver, ask for it. Use schools, mental health professionals, social services, law enforcement and others if you need help. Use all of the resources at your disposal and ask for help if you need it.
One thing that is not mentioned here, but that I think is very important. HAVE your computer in a public area (front room, kitchen, etc). Don’t let your children on the internet in their own bedrooms, etc.