Internet Safety For The Family

General Keep the computer(s) used by everyone under the legal age in a room frequently used by everyone in the household with the screen in a position where it can be seen from most areas of the room. This is to avoid the situation where the child or young adult will be more tempted to comply with an online request for 'keeping our friendship a secret.

Maintain the most current anti-virus software program and install updates for your system. Assign this task to someone on a regular basis.

After downloading and before installing, run your anti-virus software program.

Maintain the most current security updates and patches for each operating system and every program installed even if it is not used. Assign this task to someone on a regular basis.

Keep back-up copies of your information on removable media instead of your hard drive.

When you are not using your home computer, unplug it. Try not to leave the telecommunications cable and the electric cord attached at the same time when the computer is not in use.

Close, disable or disconnect any features of all installed operating systems and software programs that are not used.

Use a firewall to make unauthorized entry into your computer much more difficult.

Shopping Be as careful with online purchases as you are in a store. 

Print a copy of your online order with the company's confirmation number, date, and total amount.

Dedicate one account to online purchases. With checking or debit card accounts, deposit funds as needed.

E-Mail Do not include your social security number, tax identification number, password, address, telephone number, occupation, income, school/employer name, address, and telephone number, or any information used to install your internet service. (Legitimate companies, charities and internet service providers do not ask for personal information through email.)

Know that if you do not use encryption software, any third party can potentially read your email.

Save email attachments as a file to run through your anti-virus software before opening.

Do not open any attachments unless you confirm with the sender they actually sent the attachment.

Parents Show a genuine interest about your child's online activities. Apply the same parental rules you use with everyday situations towards the internet. A filtering software program is like having a babysitter. You trust your child with them for a limited period of time. Although the filtering software program is doing its' job, nothing can replace your parental interest, concern, and protection. You wouldn't let your child meet a stranger unsupervised or roam alone in the "bad" section of town. So, why would you let your child unknowingly stumble into a potentially dangerous internet situation?  Suggestion: make it a family affair where once a week or day everyone shares their online activities - where they went, who they met, what they learned, etc. Any variation from their personal "pattern" deserves private questioning. If they did encounter an uncomfortable, threatening, or harassing situation, tell them that this is the situation where they must be rude online by immediately going offline without any further conversation or communication with the person. (They can always get back online.) Also, tell them to tell you as soon as possible about any future incidents. Do not criticize or punish your child for letting themselves get into the situation. It is not their fault. But rather, praise them for having told you immediately. 

Young Adults & Kids Be sure to tell only your age, username, and email address online. Do not email or tell anyone online your school name, your real name, address, city, or your parents' occupation, income, or credit card numbers. Chances are that your email "friend" is who they say they are, even though many people do exaggerate online their good points, possessions, and abilities. If they send you a picture of themselves, do not send a picture back. However, you can be corresponding with someone, even for a considerable period of time, and trust them now because they have been consistent in how and what they have said. Unfortunately, since you have not met this person, you (including adults) really have no way of being sure that your friend is not an experienced man or woman mascarading online as someone your age looking to cause you harm or even death. Chat rooms (for kids, teens, or adults) are a very effective tool for the person with bad intentions.

Internet safety, like everyday safety precautions, are necessary. Have a wonderful time using the tool of the internet, get done what you set out to do, but be cautious and avoid potentially harmful situations.

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Kenny Clemons

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