This week we have a very special guest joining us to discuss Internet Safety for Children from a different perspective. Andre Tewinkel, the Owner and Operator of (ACS Computer Solutions) has seen it all. He’s one of “Computer Experts” we take our computers to when they are malfunctioning or have viruses. Computer experts also see what’s on our hard drives, where we have been visiting and who’s been visiting us. With that in mind, he’d like to remind parents about the dangers our kids face every time they go on the internet. Take it away Andre, the screen is yours.
With kids learning how to use a computer in elementary schools these days, it can be hard to keep up with what they are doing on the internet. A lot of times kids will know more about this technology than parents do. For this reason it can be easy for them to hide what they are doing from their parents. He who has the most knowledge has the advantage here.
Parents will need to get educated on at least the safety part of the internet if they want to know what their kids are up to. Keeping an eye on your kids in cyberspace is like keeping an eye on your kids at the playground. You would keep a really close eye on them when anyone other than another kid interacts with your child. Especially a grown up that showed up to the playground alone without kids.
When your child is in a chat room in cyberspace it becomes a little harder to see who’s who. Child predators can hang out in these places trying to chat up your children to gain their trust. They may then try and arrange real encounters as well. Even if they never meet, the damaging influence someone can have just by chatting with them over a period of time can be detrimental.
Chat rooms aren’t the only place chatting goes on. Most game sites such as webkinz.com, clubpenguin.com, girlgamesnow.com, chickensmoothie.com andhowrse.com also include chat portions on the site. This is where kids can make friends and play the game together and chat about anything. The identity of the other “kid” cannot be verified. Once they befriend your child, a predator can take different directions to see what they can do. They can now see if your child will send pictures or if they can meet for real. With cell phones and other devices that have digital cameras built in, it is now easier than ever for a child to take a picture and send it to someone. It may not even be of themselves, but maybe a sister, brother, parent, friend or someone in the school washroom.
THIS IS REAL! This is around us just like any other danger you protect your child against. The best way to protect your child from online predators is to know everything they do on the internet. This is not realistic! Assess your childs computer knowledge. If you feel you aren’t skilled enough to do this, invite a friend over who can, ask your child’s teacher or take your computer in for a clean up and assessment of your childs skills. This will tell you” how much” and “how to” monitor your childs computer usage.
Educating your child is also a good way of protecting them. Just as you would tell your child not to get in a van that says “free candy”, www.streetsmartkidz.ca is the website to find educational material for both you and your child absolutely free. To find out more about computer monitoring and other options you should visit your local computer shop. Ask them about how to see webpage history, parental controls and possibly even firewalls that have logging built in.
In closing, I’m not trying to terrify anyone. Computers and the internet are amazing things. As are the games mentioned in this article and other online games. Knowing and understanding these will let you properly assess the risk and put the proper rules in place for you and your child.
Watch the Street Smart Kidz “Prevent Internet Luring“ Safety Video.
Have fun and play safe.
ACS Computer Solutions