internet safety

Children face a variety of dangers everyday from cuts and scrapes to encounters with strangers both actual and virtual that could threaten their lives. These simple steps can reduce the chance of becoming a target. Knowledge is the key to protecting our children.

On-Line Dangers

The Internet is an area that can pose a very real threat to children. The anonymity of the "Net" offers adults the chance to pose as children, then try to set up a face-to-face meeting. Young teens may also be lured into virtual relationships with older adults that may result in actual encounters.

What Parents Can Do

  • Never give out identifying information -- home address, school name, telephone number - in a public message such as chat or bulletin boards, and be sure you're dealing with someone that both you and your child know and trust before giving it out via E-mail.
  • Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status, or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or unlisting your child's name if your service allows it.
  • Get to know the services your child uses. If you don't know how to log on, get your child to show you.
  • Find out what types of information it offers and whether there are ways for parents to block out objectionable material.

Mobile Apps Parents Should Be Aware Of

The following applications or Apps are commonly used by kids on their smartphone devices. These devices include iPods, iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, etc. These applications are a predators dream. We are seeing that kids are posting very private information about themselves and are posting messages and status updates about subject matter that is inappropriate and it all appears to not be policed. Recent complaints and investigations conducted by the task force suggests that predators are creating profiles on the above listed applications and posing as juveniles as a way to get closer to children. Thats why its so important to express to your children the importance of only friending someone online that they actually know.

  • Meet Me

    This application is very similar to Facebook. It allows users to see other peoples posting, much like a news feed in Facebook. It has a geo-locating feature on it, so whenever you post a status update, it tells others how many miles away you are from them. It allows users to create a profile, upload photos, send private messages to other users and it also lets users search for people who also have the application that are close to them in mileage. It doesnt have a chat feature, so users will typically go to another application to chat back and forth privately.

  • Snapchat

    Allows users to send photos directly to another user. Snapchat has a feature built in that only allows users to see the picture that was sent to them for a specific time period, between one and ten seconds. Once the message or image is viewed by the receiving party, the message/image cannot be viewed again. However, this does not take into account the features of SMART phone such as the screen capture, or the fact that a photo of the screen can be taken with another device. We know that through complaints weve received that kids feel more secure sending nude photos of themselves using this application because they have a sense of security that the receiving party cant save or re-disseminate the image that was sent. However, this sense of security is false, as there are other ways for the receiving party to copy the photo.

  • Thumb

    Like the other applications, Thumb resembles Facebook. However, the premise of Thumb is for users to upload photos and have them rated by other users.

  • Skout

    Is very similar to Meet Me. It allows users to create a profile, add friends, send messages, and share photos. Skout also has a geo-locating feature.

  • KiK Messenger

    Allows users to chat one on one. Users can also send photos directly to another user. KiK is typically used in conjunction with other applications that do not have a chat platform.

Suggested Parental Rules

  • 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.
  • I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
  • 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 and father along.
  • I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
  • 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 online service.
  • 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 while online. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
  • Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages.
  • If your child receives a message that is harassing, of a sexual nature, or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your service provider and ask for their assistance.
  • Should you become aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography while online, immediately report this to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by calling 1-800-843-5678, or contact the Franklin County Sheriff's Office at (614) 525-3333.
  • Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can't see or even hear the person, it would be very easy for someone to misrepresent himself or herself.
  • Remember, everything you read online may not be true. Any offer that is "too good to be true" probably is. Be very careful about offers that involve your coming to a meeting or having someone visit your house.
  • Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by your children and monitor often. Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder.
  • Remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. A child or teenager's excessive use of online services or bulletin boards, especially late at night, may be a clue that there is a potential problem.
  • Remember that personal computers and online services should not be used as electronic baby sitters.
  • Be sure to make this a family activity. Consider keeping the computer in a family room rather than the child's bedroom. Get to know their "online friends" just as you get to know all of their other friends.