The Internet is an important educational tool. With a click of a mouse, kids can find information on just about anything. Unfortunately, children who don’t practice basic Internet safety may expose themselves and their parents to certain risks.
Children can easily stumble upon inappropriate content. Chat rooms have a reputation for encouraging Internet predation, but pedophiles can stalk victims from Web sites like Facebook as well. Many kids don’t realize that anyone can read what they write on the Internet, so they post home phone numbers, addresses, their full names or the names of their schools.
Social networking sites may also expose children to bullying, as peers can send demeaning e-mails, instant messaging and text messages without attracting attention from parents or teachers. Finally, children may download pirated music or movies, or even computer viruses or spyware.
“The Internet is an important resource for kids, if they know how to use it,” says John Goslin, chief technology officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), a non-profit organization that strives to help young people realize their potential. “Parents need to be aware of the potential dangers and create guidelines to help kids avoid them.”
CA Technologies, which serves as the BGCA’s national information technology security partner through its global philanthropy program, CA Together IT, helps keep 56,000 BGCA computers secure. It starts off with security software, including anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware technology, and prevention measures that restrict unauthorized use.
“Software can help prevent viruses, spyware and inappropriate spam messages, and allow parents to monitor and help protect their children online,” says George Kafkarkou, general manager of CA Technologies. “But parental supervision is the best security measure available to kids.”
Parents should know where their children go online and with whom they communicate. Placing computers in a family room can help you keep an eye on their activities. Parents should instruct children not to give out personal information online, even on sites like Facebook, and ask children to come to them if they encounter anything that makes them nervous or uncomfortable.