Internet security company CheckPoint Software Technologies Ltd. of Redwood, CA, offers some thought-provoking weekend reading for parents…

Ten ways to make using the Internet safer for your family:

  1. Educate yourself about online hazards, and set clear rules for family Internet use. Websites such as Kids In The Know, or provide a range of age-appropriate strategies and tools for parents and teachers to apply to young people’s Internet use.
  2. Tell your children up front that what they do online is not private. People who your children don’t know are viewing some or all of your children’s participation in chat rooms, blogs, social networking sites such as FaceBook, Twitter or MySpace, etc. It’s your duty as a parent to educate your children about online hazards, and to protect them.
  3. Internet use by family members will be a supervised activity. Rules will be set in terms of amount of time online, kinds of activities, and kinds of Internet content. Internet use will be subject to safety rules in terms of inappropriate or dangerous activities. If children commit to use the Internet safely and responsibly, they will earn your trust. If they are engaging in harmful, risky, or obsessive activities, they will have their access to the Internet restricted.
  4. Understand that Internet savvy kids are way ahead of you, and you must catch up. In a recent study, 32 per cent of online teens stated they clear their browser history at the end of an online session, to ‘cover their tracks’ about where they have been and what they’ve been doing. 16per cent of online teens admitted creating private email addresses or social networking profiles to hide what they do online from their parents.
  5. If there is any violation of the rules for safe Internet use, then use will be restricted. For example, computers will not be allowed in children’s bedrooms, but rather will be kept in the ‘public’ parts of the house such as living room, den or kitchen. The object is to encourage safe Internet use, rather than to forbid Internet use, which would perhaps motivate the child to find a way to go online from a location outside the home.
  6. Use Antivirus, Parental Control and Firewall Software. Install and regularly update a full-featured Internet security software package, which includes parental controls (which limit the range of content the child can access) virus detection, anti-‘phishing’ and spam email filtering, and firewall features. This will greatly reduce the likelihood of your computer being damaged or hijacked by malicious cybercriminals or vandals, and will give you a degree of control over, and reporting of, attacks against your PC or home network.
  7. Check websites that your children have created, or which they visit. …And ensure that they are not putting ‘personally identifying information’ on those sites which could make them vulnerable to cyberstalkers or criminals: Remarkably large numbers of children and teens assume that sharing photos, personal history and physical descriptions is harmless. According to one recent study, 32 per cent of online teen girls have given out a photo or physical description of themselves to someone they don’t know.
  8. Monitor Webcam Use. Online predators attempt to make contact with children who have access to webcams. Ensure that you know who is connecting via webcam with your child, and for what purpose.
  9. Emphasize the Positive. Work with your children to develop a beneficial online aspect of family life: communicating with friends and family, exploring the online ‘world library’, enriching personal education, developing hobbies and skills.
  10. Continue to Educate Yourself and Your Children. Internet content and technology is constantly changing. Treat change as an opportunity to increase the benefits of technology to you and your children’s lives.

By: Paul Comessotti, Canadian Country Manager, Check Point Software Technologies Inc., Calgary, AB, and Kellman Meghu, Security Engineering Manager, Check Point Software Technologies Inc., Mississauga, ON.


To round out your TLP family Internet safety tutorial… See, also, TLP Security correspondent Eric Jacksch’s recommendarions for supervising your Children Online and his Internet Safety Tips for Parents.

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