The interactive nature of the internet creates dangers for children, particularly those who are too young to understand the seriousness of the risks. Older children may have a better understanding of what not to do, but young children tend to be trusting and do not always understand the consequences of their actions.
Children of all ages need to understand why it is important never to enter their names, addresses, phone numbers or any other personal information on a form or website. It’s also important for them never to discuss certain things online, like what city they live in, what school they go to or what shopping malls they visit. A person with bad intentions can easily add all this information to get an accurate picture of where children live and their daily routines.
In households where young children go online, an internet filter can keep them from accidentally visiting inappropriate sites. When kids innocently search for a topic, the results can lead to sites that may not be appropriate. While teenagers are more familiar with which sites represent bad internet territory, children under 12 are less likely to understand. Filters can keep them from adult sites, sites with excessive violence, or even legitimate reference sites that may have disturbing subject matter.
It’s also important that kids understand not every site or popup ad is safe, not even ones that look legitimate or official. These sites or ads can contain viruses and other harmful software that can damage your files or computer, or search your computer for personal information. Explain to your child that he or she should never click on any ad that claims to run a virus scan, or that they have won a free prize. Nor should they download any software without your knowledge or permission.
It’s important to communicate with children regarding internet safety, and to be proactive in teaching your children to be cautious.