“Uneducated and naive use of the Internet unnecessarily exposes children to risks and facilitates inappropriate behaviors already proliferating Cyberspace, such as computer security breaches, financial fraud, identity theft, cyber bullying, and other personal safety issues such as child predation, child pornography, human trafficking, etc.”
Online abuse may include online privacy violations, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, online predators, and more.
PALCS is committed to providing safe and secure school computers and to ensure your student has a safe online learning environment. To learn more, click here.
Why are Kids at Risk?
Kids release a tremendous amount of personal information such as their school name and mascot, hobbies, best friends’ names and nicknames, IM screen names, family pets, favorite teams and often other personal details about themselves. In some cases, you don’t need to have an account to search for someone based on their nickname, interests, location, AOL ID, Yahoo ID, MSN Username or email address.
Does your child belong to a soccer team that maintains a website with photos of the children at their latest meet? These types of sites may provide too much information about your child and should be (at least) password protected. Consider performing an online reconnaissance operation on your child’s name – is their name online somewhere? Determine if their personal information is online (birthdate, school name, teacher name, nickname, home address, home phone number, picture, etc.). One of the key pieces of advice to protect children online is to keep personal information off the Internet.
What Kids are most at Risk?
- Age: 11-16
- Little parental involvement
- No definite bedtime
- Can be away from home without anyone knowing where he/she is
- Has exclusive use of the computer in a private area
Internet Safety Laws
A federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), was created to help protect kids online. It’s designed to keep anyone from obtaining a child’s personal information without a parent knowing about it and agreeing to it first.COPPA requires websites to explain their privacy policies on the site and get parental consent before collecting or using a child’s personal information, such as a name, address, phone number, or Social Security number. The law also prohibits a site from requiring a child to provide more personal information than necessary to play a game or participate in a contest.But even with this law, your kids’ best online protection is you. By talking to them about potential online dangers and monitoring their computer use, you’ll help them surf the Internet safely.
- Cyberbullying is the willful and repeated harm inflicted through the medium of electronic text. It can take place in chat rooms, on social networking websites, through cell phone text messaging, email, and other web-based environments.
- Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet, cell phones, or other electronic means to stalk and harass someone.\
- Online predators is an adult Internet user who exploits vulnerable children or teens, usually for abusive purposes.
- Online Privacy Violations information that is posted or used online that compromise’s someone’s privacy through the use of the Internet. These methods of compromise can range from the gathering of statistics on users, to more malicious acts such as the spreading of spyware.
Stay Involved with Student’s Online Activities
Taking an active role in protecting your child from inappropriate materials is a critical to Internet safety. Below are tips to staying involved:
- Keep the computer in a central location may alert you to suspicious online activity
- Be alert to sudden screen switching when you walk by
- Bookmark your child’s favorite sites for easy access
- Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behavior.
- Forbid your child from entering private discussion forums or live chat rooms with the exception of Virtual Classrooms (chats) that are secure and monitored by your child’s teacher.
- Maintain awareness of the tools your child uses online may help alert you to potential dangers. For example, knowing the type of content that may be found on specific websites.
- Forward copies of concerning or threatening messages to your teacher.
Most parents grew up with the “don’t talk to strangers” message ingrained in their psyche. That message also applies to the digital world. How do you feel about tracking your child’s online activity? Eavesdropping on your child’s online activity could be very harmful to a parent-child relationship that is based on trust. This is an issue that you must resolve for yourself – possibly in an open forum with your child. Some parents feel justified looking into their child’s online activity after setting up a background image that states “We may periodically examine or track your online activity as it relates to your safety. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened by any online activity, please turn off the monitor and come talk with us immediately.”
~ Detective James McLaughlin, Keene Police Department
Basic Rules for Students
Set up some simple rules for your children to follow while they’re using the Internet, such as:
- Never reveal personal information, such as address, phone number, school name or location, without checking with your parent. Even then, this information should only be released to PALCS administrators or teachers.
- Never agree to meet anyone from a chat room in person, unless it is a legitimate school function or you are attending with a parent.
- Never respond to a threatening email or message, notify a teacher or parent immediately.
- Always tell a parent or teacher about any communication or conversation that was scary.