The Internet has drastically changed the way that children interact with the world. They have access to in-depth knowledge, tools to express their creativity, and people from all over the world. Yet along with offering a fascinating, new way to connect with the world, the Internet also offers new risks:
- Exposure to inappropriate material
- Online predators
- Revealing too much personal information
Learning to recognize the warning signs of these risks will allow trusted adults to intervene and lessen potential negative impacts. By acting as a resource, parents and guardians can help make the Internet a safer place for their families. As a parent or guardian, you should stay well-informed about current issues to understand what your children are experiencing on and off the Internet. If they are social networking, instant messaging, using webcams, or blogging, help them use these tools safely by learning how to use them yourself. Children whose parents and guardians regularly talk to them about personal safety are more likely to exhibit responsible behavior on their own. To learn more about the issues surrounding your children’s online lives, go to http://www.netsmartz.org/InternetSafety. There, you can find tips and discussion starters to help you begin a dialogue about safety with your children.