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When your child spends time on the computer, do you know what he's doing or who he's communicating with? A study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed that, while a majority of parents reported that they talked to their children about Internet use and established rules for the safe use of the computer, less than half of them regularly checked their child's activity on the Internet. In addition, over half of the children surveyed did not need parental permission to use the Internet and didn't have any restrictions as to the number of hours they could spend on the Internet.
Many parents have a false sense of security regarding Internet use because they view the computer as a safe educational tool. They believe that because their children are at home, and often in their own rooms, they are safe from harm. But this is not always true. As in all areas of your child's life, you need to stay involved, keep the lines of communication open about Internet activities (you might consider installing internet security software with parental controls, available from companies like OnlineFamily.Norton, to help you monitor your child's website whereabouts), and develop rules of safety.
1. Never give out personal information on the Internet, such as their address, telephone number, the name or location of their school, or their parents' names. Websites or other online services may ask children for information in order to enter special contests or to obtain free gifts. Other websites won't allow access unless the user gives them personal information. However, once personal information is given, it is important that your children understand that their privacy can be compromised. Their names could end up on a sales database, or worse, the information could be used to harm or exploit them.