The article is posted at http://www.safekids.com/kids-rules-for-online-safety/
‘Cyberspace,’ the ‘Web,’ the ‘Net,’ the ‘Information Highway’” —
Whatever it’s called, the majority of people in developed nations are now going online to exchange electronic mail (E-mail) and instant messages; participate in chat groups; post and read messages in social networking sites and blogs, “surf” the world wide web; and many other online activities. Children are no exception in fact they are more likely to be online than adults.
Personal computers are no longer the only method used for accessing the Internet. Children can go online from personal computers at home, a friend’s house, in school, a library, club, or cafe. Many game consoles can be connected to the Internet and used for chatting and other online interaction. It is also possible to access the Internet on mobile devices such as cellular telephones and other handheld devices. In other words children don’t have to be in the company of responsible adults to use the Internet.
There are no censors on the Internet. Anyone in the world — companies, governments, organizations, and individuals — can publish material on the Internet. A service provider links you to these sites, but it can’t control what is on them. It’s up to individuals to make sure that they behave in a way that’s safe and appropriate.
Most people who go online have mainly positive experiences. But, like any endeavor — attending school, cooking, riding a bicycle, or traveling, — there are some risks and annoyances. The online world, like the rest of society, is made up of a wide array of people. Most are decent and respectful, but some may be rude, obnoxious, insulting, or even mean and exploitative. Children get a lot of benefit from being online, but they can also be targets of crime, exploitation, and harassment in this as in any other environment. Trusting, curious, and anxious to explore this new world and the relationships it brings, children need parental supervision and common-sense advice on how to be sure that their experiences in “cyberspace” are happy, healthy, and productive.
Many people, including children, have been confronted with material that is disturbing or inappropriate. There are steps parents can take to try to shield their children from such material, but it’s almost impossible to completely avoid all inappropriate material. Sadly there are some cases where children have been victimized by serious crime as a result of going online. Parents can greatly minimize the chances that their children will be victimized by teaching their children to follow some basic rules (read below). The fact that crimes are being committed online, however, is not a reason to avoid using the Internet. To tell children to stop using the Internet would be like telling them to forgo attending school because students are sometimes victimized or bullied there. A better strategy would be to instruct children about both the benefits and dangers of “cyberspace” and for them to learn how to be “street smart” in order to better safeguard themselves in any potentially dangerous situation.
Kids Rules for Online Safety (for pre-teens)
1. I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents’ permission.
2. I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
3. I will never agree to get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.
4. I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
5. I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the service provider.
6. I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
7. I will not give out my Internet password to anyone (even my best friends) other than my parents.
8. I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly hurt our computer or jeopardize my family’s privacy.
9. I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.
10. I will help my parents understand how to have fun and learn things online and teach them things about the Internet, computers and other technology.