As part of National Safety Month—observed by the National Safety Council (NSC) each June—the personal injury attorneys at Carter Mario Injury Lawyers offer information to protect children from the dangers they may face when they venture online.
Understand the Risks
Today, almost all children in the U.S. have access to the Internet. When used properly, it provides children with vast educational resources and hours of entertainment. Sadly, it being so easily accessible also exposes children to harm—including violent content; pornographic material; or inappropriate information.
To make matters worse, the Internet harbors predators who can identify and lure victims through social networks, online chat rooms, or instant messaging programs. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) details the dangers unrestricted access can pose to children on their website.
Communicate Risks With Children
To keep kids safe, parents must communicate with them about risks. Previous generations were told to avoid talking to strangers or getting in cars with people they don’t know. While these still hold true, we must expand this advice to include warnings against inappropriate online content.
Establish a dialogue with children. It allows them to feel comfortable coming to you should they encounter anything which makes them uncomfortable or afraid. Let children know what to avoid and let them know they should bring potentially harmful information to you if they find it.
Set clear rules for children to follow and help them understand the risks of breaking them. Let them know why they should never share personal information—such as full names, addresses, or phone numbers—online. Help them understand the risks of sharing personal pictures on public sites—as well as the harm that may come from chatting with strangers. Use Internet filters and monitoring software to supervise browsing or surfing activity. Know the sites your child visits. Some popular parental control softwares include:
While the dangers are concerning, there is good news close to home. Home-security site Safewise awarded Connecticut an A Grade in their Internet Safety Guide for Kids. They gave the state high marks for tough laws on cyberbullying, online harassment, and sexually explicit texting.
If you are concerned that someone is inappropriately contacting your child online, report it. You may do so by calling the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or by visiting their website at www.cybertipline.com.