The Internet and e-mail have become one of the most common ways for people to communicate with each other. Many people conduct business, shop, research and do a host of other activities online. However, the anonymous environment of the Internet can be dangerous. The reality of the Internet is that we never really know if the people we are talking to are really who they say they are.
To give parents the tools needed to keep their kids safe on the Internet, Attorney General Madigan has created aninnovative program regarding the realities of online safety. This program, Project Surf Safe: Navigating the Hidden Dangers of the Internet, is a useful tool in helping parents stay informed about the dangers lurking on the Internet. In addition, the Attorney General’s office provides online safety tips for children, teenagers and parents as well as other consumer-related information on protecting yourself online.
All of the above information has been designed to help you protect your family when surfing the Internet. However, you are not alone in this fight. The Attorney General’s High Tech Crimes Bureau and the Illinois Internet Child Exploitation Task Force are dedicated to stopping online child exploitation.
For more information on the resources describe here, District 128 encourages parents and their students to visit Lisa Madigan's website.
- While surfing the Web, reading the news, or chatting, there is a good chance that you could run into material that might make you feel uncomfortable. When surfing the Web or reading the news, the simple solution is to stop and leave that particular site or newsgroup.
- In a chat room, if someone sends you a message that makes you feel uncomfortable, you are under no obligation to continue chatting with that person. If repeated messages are sent, then you can always leave the chat area and report that person to the service administrator and your parents. If you don’t feel comfortable informing the administrator, ask your parents for help.
- The largest risk that you can take online is posting information about whoyou are and/or where you can be located. Be careful of what you write while online and to whom you write. When you are chatting, you cannot see who is reading your messages; you know only what they tell you, which may be false. Think of chatting as saying something out loud in a crowded room.
- The Internet is continuously growing with Internet-only businesses; some are legitimate businesses, but others are not. Giving out any financial information over the Internet can expose you to many types of risk. Be sure to discuss all Internet purchases with a parent.
- In chat rooms, people often intentionally say uncomfortable things specifically to harass people. If you get one of these messages, do not take it personally and do not reply. Replies just encourage the person who is sending the messages. While some messages may just be annoying, others may be criminal. If you receive messages or images that are obscene, lewd, filthy, or indecent with the purpose of annoying, offending, abusing, threatening, or harassing you, report it to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), to your police department or sheriff’s office, and to your parents.
- While online, you should avoid doing things that might hurt people or get yourself into trouble. Do not annoy, harass, offend, abuse, or threaten others while online.
- People online can be whoever they want to be, and they are under no obligation to tell the truth about who they are. If you want to meet with someone, discuss it with your parents first and never meet anyone alone.
- Find out what your friends from school are doing online and ask about their experiences. Sometimes information about the Internet travels faster by word of mouth than on the Net itself.
Tips for parents for keeping their teens safe online
- Keep the computer in a room—other than the child’s—with frequent foot traffic, so all household members can monitor times of use and material viewed.
- Set up agreements and guidelines about the use of the computer.
- Understand the functions of the software programs your child uses. If you do not understand these functions, ask your child to teach you.
- Be aware of what Internet sites your child is visiting. Investigate blocking or screening services provided by various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and software programs.
- Learn about everyone your child meets online and discuss these relationships with your child.
- Spend time online with your child and discuss their online experiences just as you would ask them about their day.
Set a good example for your children with your own Internet use:
- Do not respond to any threatening or offensive messages and encourage your child to do the same.
- Never give out any personal information and encourage your child to do the same.
Additional Internet Safety Resources and Links (from Mrs. Anastasia Fleischer's Summer 2012 Technology Class)
1) Stop Cyberbullying (http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/)
2) Make a Difference for Kids (http://www.makeadifferenceforkids.org/)
3) Cybersafety Prevention 101 (http://www.datehookup.com/content-cybersafety-prevention-101.htm)
4) Facebook for Parents (http://facebookforparents.org/)
5) Be Smart, Be Safe! (http://www.edmondschools.net/cheyenne/MediaCenter/InternetSafety.aspx)
6) Internet Safety Resources (http://www.txssc.txstate.edu/K12/internet-safety)
7) Online Predators and Their Victims (http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-632111.pdf)