Child Internet Safety Resources
Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678 if you're aware of the sending, use, or viewing of child pornography online. Contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI if your child has received child pornography via the Internet.
Online tools let you control your kids' access to adult material and help protect them from Internet predators. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) provide parent-control options. You can also get software that helps block access to sites and restricts personal information from being sent online. Other programs can monitor and track online activity.
As kids get older, it gets a little trickier to monitor their time spent online. They may carry a smartphone with them at all times. They probably want — and need — some privacy. This is healthy and normal, as they're becoming more independent from their parents. The Internet can provide a safe "virtual" environment for exploring some newfound freedom if precautions are taken.
Monitoring technology enables parents to supervise children's Internet activity by reporting on their surfing activity. Some monitoring software creates a digital record of the websites that children visit and makes that information available for parents to later review. Likewise, keystroke software makes a record of all of the keystrokes that a child user makes, so that the parents can later review what their children typed. Other variations and combinations of this software exist as well.
Talk about the sites and apps teens use and their online experiences. Discuss the dangers of interacting with strangers online and remind them that people online don't always tell the truth. Explain that passwords are there to protect against things like identity theft. They should never share them with anyone, even a boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend.
Filtering technology consists of software that screens out some content while allowing other material to flow through to its intended destination. Parents can set up various filters to block material according to their families' priorities and preferences. The technology is not perfect - some desirable material may be accidentally blocked and some objectionable material may slip through the cracks - but filtering programs generally serves the useful purpose of automatically and consistently screening out harmful material. Filtering technology comes in several forms:
Parents may also wish to establish an open dialogue with their children. Open dialogue allows children to feel comfortable to tell a trusted adult if they come across material that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused. It also allows parents and guardians to play an active role in understanding their children’s Internet use. Open discussions allow all parties to feel comfortable with the children’s internet use.
To communicate these risks most effectively, a parent must understand the risks. This may sound trivial, but uses for the Internet are growing and changing as web technologies advance. For example, social networking or online gaming present specific and potential risks that may be unfamiliar to a parent that does not use the Internet for these purposes. Therefore, it is important for parents to stay abreast of current technologies in order to best communicate all potential risks to their children. (For further information on the benefits and risks associated with different Internet uses and applications, see National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Keeping Kids Safer on the Internet: Tips for Parents and Guardians)