Guide Helps Protect Kids from Web Predators
By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge — State Sen. Marty Golden begins his letter on the cover of his new Internet safety brochure with a sobering question.
“Did you know that one in five children has been sexually solicited online?” he writes.
Golden has printed a brochure, “Internet Safety,” subtitled “What Every Parent Should Know,” to serve as a guide to parents on how to better protect their children against cyber criminals.
The brochure is available at the senator’s district office at 7408 Fifth Ave. Residents can also e-mail Golden at [email protected] to obtain a copy.
The four-page guide offers such tips as “Parental Control Tools,” aimed at assisting parents looking to have a firm hand on their children’s Internet habits.
The brochure offers information on the definition of cyber-bullying and offers advice on how to help keep teenagers safe from it.
There is also a list of “Simple Rules For Online Safety,” that includes a suggestion that parents instruct their children to never give out personal information to anyone such as their address, telephone number, and the name and location of their school.
“As technology continues to advance, we must not ignore the fact that our children are growing up in a world that requires us to provide them with safety not only in schools, parks, and on our streets, but now, just as importantly on the Internet,” Golden said.
“Just as you would not allow your children to wander alone through unfamiliar city streets, it is too risky to allow our children to interact on the Internet without parental involvement,” Golden said.
The guide, which features a picture of a computer screen on the cover, opens with a letter from Golden to parents. “In fact, one of the most important things you can teach a child is that the Internet is not always a safe playground. Behavior that would make them uncomfortable in person must not be tolerated online,” he wrote.
Parents should instruct their children to never agree to meet someone in person that they have chatted with online unless telling a parent first, Golden said.
Children should also be told never to respond to a message that is mean or makes them feel uncomfortable, he said.
One of the most important things parents should remember, according to Golden, is that they are in charge of their children and need to take a strong hand. He encourages parents to learn how to use the Internet. For parents who are unfamiliar with computers, Golden suggests taking an introductory course at a local library, community center, or school.
Parents should also make use of Internet control tools available to them, Golden said. He said parents could start that process by contacting their Internet provider, such as Time Warner cable, Verizon, or American Online, and asking about parental control tools.
The tools include giving parents the ability reroute any e-mails their children receive to the parents’ account, rejecting e-mails to their children coming from a specific e-mail address, limiting the results of Internet searches by their children so that only age-appropriate material comes up, and blocking private messages between the child and other people.
The definition of cyber-bullying, according to the guide, is “when a child, pre-teen, or teen is threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen, or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, or mobile phones.”
Parents can help protect their children by maintaining a constant line of communication with them, according to the brochure.
The brochure is based on information from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the Children’s Partnership Organization, and the website www.safekids.com.
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