Internet Dangers

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Rules ‘N Tools™


Implement both safety rules and software tools to protect your children online, one without the other is ineffective.

Rule: Teach your children to never give personal information over the Internet, such as name, address, telephone number, password, parents' names, the name of any club or team he/she is involved in, name of his/her school, or after school job.

  • In a study of 4 million children between the ages of 7 and 17 who use the Internet, 29% indicated they would give out their home address and 14% would give out their email address if asked (NOP Research Group, 2002).
  • 81% of parents of online teens say that teens aren’t careful enough when giving out information about themselves online and 79% of online teens agree with this (Pew Internet & American Life Project, March 17, 2005).
Rule: Disallow chat rooms / Recognize that chat rooms are the playground of today's sexual predator.
  • Approximately 89% of sexual solicitations of youth were made in either chat rooms or through Instant Messaging (Pew Study reported in JAMA, 2001).
  • 1 in 5 youth ages 10 to 17 received sexual solicitation or approach in last year (Online Victimization, NCMEC, June 2000).
  • “30% of teenage girls polled by the Girl Scout Research Institute said they had been sexually harassed in a chatroom. Only 7% told their parent because they were worried that their parents would ban them from going online” (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2002).
  • "86% of the girls polled said they could chat online without their parents’ knowledge, 57% could read their parents’ e-mail, and 54% could conduct a cyber relationship” (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2002).
  • Law enforcement officials estimate that as many as 50,000 sexual predators are online at any given moment (Dateline, 2006).
Rule: Limit your child's Instant Messaging to a parental approved buddy list. Regularly check your child's buddy list to ensure that it has not been altered.
  • 42% of parents do not review the content of what their teenager(s) read and/or type in chat rooms or via instant messaging (The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and NetSmartz, June 2005).
  • 95% of parents didn’t recognize common chat room lingo that teenagers use to let people they’re chatting with know that their parents are watching. Those phrases are POS (parent over shoulder), P911 (parent alert), BRB (be right back), LOL (laughing out loud) and A/S/L (age/sex/location) (The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and NetSmartz, June 2005).
  • Half of teens ages 13-18 often communicate through the Internet with someone they have not met in person (Polly Klaas Foundation, December 21, 2005).
  • One-third of youth ages 8-18 have talked about meeting someone they have only met through the Internet (Polly Klaas Foundation, December 21, 2005).
  • Almost one in eight youth ages 8-18 discovered that someone they were communicating with online was an adult pretending to be much younger (Polly Klaas Foundation, December 21, 2005).
Rule: Place your computer in an area of your home where you can easily supervise your child's Internet activity. If you allow your child to have a webcam, place it in a public area of your house.
  • 30% of parents allow their teenagers to use the computer in private areas of the house such as a bedroom or a home office. Parents say they are more vigilant about where their teen(s) go online if the computer is in a public area of the household (NCMEC/ Cox5/24/05).
Rule: Know your kids’ online activities and friends. (Regularly ask your kids about their online friends and activities. Role play with your child various dangerous scenarios that they could encounter online.)
  • Nearly three out of 10 (28%) of parents don't know or are not sure if their teens talk to strangers online (NCMEC/ Cox5/24/05).

  • 65% of all parents and 64% of all teens say that teens do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about (Pew Internet & American Life Project, March 17, 2005).

  • The adult Internet porn industry estimates that some traffic on their sites is 20–30% children (NRC Report, 2002).

Tool: Use parental controls/filtering or monitoring technology which block access to dangerous sites and activities.

  • Over half (51%) of parents either do not have or do not know if they have software on their computer(s) that monitors where their teenager(s) go online and with whom they interact (NCMEC/Cox 5/24/05).
  • 70% of teens online have accidentally come across pornography on the Web (The Kaiser Family Foundation).
  • Nine out of 10 children aged between eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet. In most cases, the sex sites were accessed unintentionally when a child, often in the process of doing homework, used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures (London School of Economics January 2002).
  • The largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17 (Family Safe Media website, 2006).
  • More than 11 million teens regularly view porn online (“Protecting Kids Online.” Editorial. The Washington Post, July 1, 2004).

Rule: Establish online rules and an agreement with your child about Internet use at home and outside of the home (i.e., at a friend's house, at school, at the library, etc).

  • 77% of parents do not have rules about what their kids can do on the computer, such as restricting the amount of time their kids spend on the computer (Kaiser Family Foundation Study, March 2005).

Rule: Spend time online alongside your child and establish an atmosphere of trust regarding computer usage and online activities.

  • Only 25% of children who received a sexual solicitation told a parent (NCMEC, 2000).

Rule: Monitor the amount of time your child spends on the Internet, and at what times of day. Excessive time online, especially at night, may indicate a problem. Remind your child that Internet use is a privilege, not a right.

  • Watch for changes in your child's behavior (mention of adults you don't know, secretiveness, inappropriate sexual knowledge, sleeping problems, etc.).
  • 23% of youth reported being “very” or “extremely upset” by exposures to sexual material (Victimization of Youths on the Internet, 2003).

Rule: Do not permit your child to have an online profile containing personally identifiable information or pictures of themselves (My, AOL profiles, etc.).

Rule: Check with your child's school to see if student projects, artwork, or photos are being put on school websites. Schools need to be reminded of that risk and encouraged to allow access to student activities posted on the school's website by password only.

Rule: Instruct your kids never to plan a face-to-face meeting with someone that they have met online.

Rule: Report any content or activity that you suspect as illegal or criminal to local law enforcement and to Cybertipline at 1-800-843-5678.


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© 2001 by Donna Rice Hughes. Request permission if you wish to reprint or post.