If your child is not "online" already, he or she may soon be joining the millions of children who are using the Internet. Whether using the Internet at home or school, the online world offers children experiences that can be both educational and rewarding, but sometimes pose a risk. In an effort to help parents protect their children online, Better Business Bureau offers tips to avoid the most prevalent risks that children may encounter.
Here is a list of the most prevalent risks that children may encounter online:
- Bullying and harassment - This is most likely to occur through social networking sites or through email or text messages. It’s important to listen to your children and encourage them to discuss their fears and feelings about such incidents.
- Reputation-harming online posts - Children may not understand that “online is forever.” Posts can haunt them at some point in the future and may be saved by someone, even after it has been deleted. Be sure your kids understand this, especially as it applies to photographs. Take the time to use a search engine to check up on what has been posted by or about your children.
- Phishing attempts and identity theft - Help your children understand that emails requesting passwords and usernames may be fake, even though they look legitimate. They should never click on links in such emails. Explain to them that passwords should be shared with no one except you.
- Inappropriate content - Children can easily stumble upon material that is sexual, violent or illustrates illegal activity.
Teach your children that they should never give out personal information, including their name, home address, telephone number, age, school name or location, or use a credit card online without your permission. Many Internet Service Providers and commercial online services offer site blocking and restrictions on incoming e-mails.