The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice have joined private industry companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Time Warner in launching initiatives aimed at improving child internet safety. The government programs include a host of valuable resources for parents.
The Department of Justice’s program, called the National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, aims to address child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism and commercial sexual exploitation. Details can be found on the Department’s Project Safe Childhood website. You can check out the resources section there for much more helpful information.
The FBI’s national campaign (which is not new but is making news this week) is called the Innocent Images National Initiative. As part of the program, the Washington D.C. office has released a set of parent and child guidelines to staying safe online, according to ABC 13 outlet WVEC:
- Establish Rules. Time allowed online; approved sites to visit; know your child’s online activities; approve buddy lists.
- Common Space Computers. Supervise the use of the computer.
- Keep It Neutral. Choose gender neutral, non-revealing, non-suggestive screen names and e-mail addresses.
- Open Communication. Establish an ongoing dialogue and spend time on the Internet with your child.
- Protect Personal Information. Supervise photos, profiles, and other information posted online.
- Use Privacy Settings. Restrict access to and limit who can view your child’s social networking and online gaming profiles.
- Think Before You Post. Supervise the types of photos and videos being posted online. Allow webcam usage only under strict supervision.
- Know Where They Go. Learn the social networking sites and how your children communicate online.
- Don’t Meet A Stranger. If you do not know the person in real life, never agree to a face-to-face meeting.
- Utilize Software Tools. Filters to block inappropriate websites; parental controls; monitoring software; limit live audio chat; use safe search engines; check Internet history; check image files; set up the family’s Internet accounts
For parents who find the above list a little oppressive, or have older teenaged kids for whom it would be unreasonable to have such regimented guidelines and restrictions, communication is still necessary to ensure that kids understand the risks or their internet activity and act responsibility. Parents should take some time to educate themselves as to what internet and social media safety and privacy resources are available.
As a parent, if you feel that you are way behind the curve in terms of understanding what your kids are doing online, our service can offer a quick, confidential look into how safe your kids’ internet profiles and activity are.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.