What parents can do to keep kids safe online - Catholic Courier

What parents can do to keep kids safe online

According to Pam Weaver, coordinator of community education for the New York branch of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, parents should begin a dialogue about the rewards and pitfalls of technology; consider rating, blocking, monitoring and filtering applications for the computer and other communications devices; work with their kids to set reasonable rules to reduce the risks; make Internet use a family activity; encourage children’s critical-thinking skills; and encourage their kids to tell them when they encounter problems online or view something disturbing.

Parents are encouraged to be familiar with all of the communications technology their children use, Weaver said, including Web sites, online chatrooms, instant-message programs, newsgroups, peer-to-peer software, and online gaming applications and digital devices.

If parents believe children are being cyberbullied, Weaver said they should urge their children to not respond to attacks, to save the messages, block/ban the bully, set up new accounts and report the incident.

Parents also should familiarize themselves with digital hardware, software and abbreviations their children commonly use, she said. For example, she noted that many people may be familiar with "LOL" as an abbreviation for "laugh out loud," but they may not know that "A/S/L" means "age/sex/location," "POS" means "parent over shoulder" and "LMIRL" means "let’s meet in real life." Parents can ask questions about unfamiliar technology at www.NetSmartz411.org or by calling 1-888-NETS411 (1-888-638-7411).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Parents can report online and offline sexual exploitation of children, unsolicited obscene material sent to a child, and misleading domain names, words and images on the Internet to www.cybertipline.com or by calling 1-800-843-5678.

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