Much like you would not permit your seven-year old child to go out to the mall and play by her- or himself, you also should not allow your child to access the Information Superhighway without permission, guidance, and a host of safety precautions. Since children as young as five-year old kindergarteners are now accessing the computer and Internet, these kinds of safety discussions need to take place at progressively younger ages.
Even as you do not wish to scare your child, explaining the potential dangers in age appropriate terms is vital. Much like you would caution a child against revealing a name or address to a stranger at the playground or store, your child should also know not to give out such personal information to a virtual stranger.
As children get older and enter into online contact with other children, email safety is another aspect of child internet safety which must be learned. Perhaps the most important bit of guidance you can offer is the limitation on the kinds of emails which should be opened. By and large it is a good idea to only permit the child to open emails from friends and family members whom she or he knows personally. All others should only be opened with you present.
While child internet safety is learned, perhaps the easiest way of ensuring that learning is taking place revolves around the proper computer placement. Children should never have Internet access in the privacy of their room but instead should only surf the â€˜Net from a computer placed in a well traveled area of the home where you and other household members can keep a watchful eye on the proceedings.
Sure, junior may balk at the idea of not having a computer all to her- or himself, but when it comes to safety precautions it is safer to err on the side of annoying your child than permitting clever strangers unfettered access to your childâ€™s private sanctum.