The Internet and the invention of the personal computer are perhaps the most significant creations of the 20th Century, offering unprecedented communication tools that link families and friends worldwide. It provides users access to an incredible volume of information and is an invaluable tool for the academic and business world.

However, the Internet can also be a seedy and dangerous place for people of all ages, especially children and teens. Therefore, parents must be aware of how to minimize the dangers to their children and be able to inform them of what measures to take to keep their Internet time as safe as possible.

Children are often introduced to the Internet early when the parent has full control over their child’s Internet use. As the child develops, however, parents naturally have to gradually relinquish this control while doing all they can to keep their children safe from the Internet’s dangers.

Ages 2 to 4

At this age, children start interacting with the computer in the presence of their parents. Numerous sites can be suitable for this age group, but in most cases, it makes sense for the parent and child to explore together. This is not just for safety but also to ensure that the child has a pleasant experience. It’s probably best for parents to choose the Web sites they visit and not let them leave those sites independently.

Ages 4 to 8

Children begin to explore independently for the first time, but it’s still important for parents to be in very close touch with their children as they explore the Net. When your child is at this age, it becomes important to restrict their access only to sites you have visited and feel appropriate. At this age, kids must experience positive results from places they encounter. The issue here isn’t so much about avoiding dangerous areas and ensuring they visit sites that don’t frustrate them.

Ages 8 to 11

During this period, for the first time, children begin looking outside the family for new information, and peer pressure becomes an issue for many kids. It’s also a time when kids seek more independence from their parents. Children should be encouraged to explore their own during these years, but that doesn’t mean the parents shouldn’t be close by. For this age group, consider putting the computer in a kitchen area or any other place where the child can access parents while using the computer. That way, they can be “independent” but not alone.

Complete control over your child’s use of the computer. When your child is at this stage, you need to be concerned not so much about what he’s doing online and with the PC but how long he’s spending on the PC. Be sure that his time on the computer and the Internet doesn’t take away from all his other activities. Children must spend their free time immersed in various activities to develop fully. One way to deal with this might be to use a software time-limiting tool such as Chronager.

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Ages 12 to 14

At this stage, many kids want to experience even more independence. If children aren’t already doing so, this is a time when they should start using the Internet to help with schoolwork and, perhaps, apply it to extra-curricular activities. This is also an age when you must be concerned about what kids see and do on the Internet and how long they are online. You need to set time limits so that they do not spend excessive time online. Also, it would help if you were sure they were spending time doing other activities such as sports, music, and reading.

At this time, children often become very social and are most likely to be interested in an online chat. Kids should understand basic privacy rules and be aware that they can never give out information about themselves or get together with anyone they meet online without first checking with their parents. Also, it should be emphasized that they should never exchange photographs with people they don’t know. At this age, they need to clearly understand that people on the Internet may not be who they are made out to be.

This is also an age when many children start to become interested in sexual matters. Kids need to know their parents are around and what they are doing during this early exploration period. You may not need to be in the same room as your kids the entire time they’re on the Net, but they need to know that you and other family members can come in any time and ask them about what they are doing online. If parents can’t be around all the time, then commercial Internet monitoring software is a vital tool for parents at this time.

A strong argument for getting an Internet filter is thus: If kids search hard enough, they can probably find Websites and newsgroups that explore sexual fantasies that they — and even you — might find disturbing or even frightening. Children at this age are likely to be interested in games that they can download from the Internet to play online or offline. Some of these games may have highly inappropriate content for children, so it’s important to be aware of what your kids are doing on the computer, even when they’re not connected to the Internet.

Again, Internet monitoring software can help parents who cannot always be around to monitor how their children are using the computer directly. When using filtering software, you may need to explain to them that you are doing it to protect them from the material you consider harmful. Just as you might not let them go to certain places in your hometown, you can keep them from surfing certain types of businesses in cyberspace.

Age14 to 17

A teen begins to mature physically, emotionally, and intellectually at this age. Consequently, they desire to experience increasing independence from their parents. Teens are also more likely to risks both online and offline. While the likelihood of a teen being abducted by someone he meets in a chat room is relatively low, there is always the possibility that they will meet someone who will want to have a personal relationship. Teens must be aware that these people might be very different from how they are made to be online.

Teens must understand that controlling themselves means being vigilant and alert to people who might hurt them. If a teen does want to meet someone they met online, it’s important that the teen does not go alone and that the meeting takes place somewhere in public.

A teen should be given Internet privileges that are subject to being taken away if the Internet is misused. However, remember that your teen will soon be an adult and needs to know not just how to behave but also how to make judgments and find their conclusions on how to explore the Net and life in general safely and productively. The following list should be given to your children and referred back to often. They are standard rules that children should keep to keep their online activity as safe as possible.


1) I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parent’s work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents’ permission. I will not fill out questionnaires or any forms online. This includes chat rooms, instant messages, email, surfing the Net, and even entering contests or registering for clubs online.

2) I will tell my parents immediately if I come across any information that makes me uncomfortable.

3) I will never agree to get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will ensure it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.

4) I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.

5) I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. If I do, I will Log off and tell my parents. If I get such a message, I will not respond. Instead, I will show it to my parents and let them deal with it.

6) I will talk with my parents to set up rules for going online. We will decide the time of day I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and the appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.

7) I will not give my Internet password to anyone (even my best friends) other than my parents.

8) I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could hurt our computer or jeopardize my family’s privacy

9) I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.

10) I will help my parents understand how to have fun, learn things online and teach them about the Internet, computers, and other technology.

11) I will not enter a chat room without Mum and Dad’s presence or supervision. Some “kids” in chat rooms may not be kids; they may be adults with bad intentions.

12) I will never respond to or send an email or instant message to a stranger or accept emails, enclosures, links, URLs, or other things online from people I know. I will talk to my parents first so they can check it out.

13) I will not keep an online profile as this serves as a lightning rod for predators. If I keep such a profile, I am much more likely to be approached in chat rooms by dangerous people.

The first point referred to keeping information private. This is a vital point that children need to be reminded of repeatedly. Everything about you: your name, your phone number, your age, your passwords, and where you live is your private information. When you’re on the Internet or using an online service, you may get an email or an instant message or come to a website that asks you for this information.

Children should know that if people get hold of private information through the Internet. They might want to use it to try to sell them things. They might send them an unwanted and highly inappropriate email (spam). They might sell or trade their information with another company. Or, they might have much more sinister and dangerous intentions and use this information to try to make personal contact with the child, at first through the Internet and then maybe face to face.

Soft ForYou, a filtering and monitoring software company whose products were highly rated by PC Magazine, Tech TV, Lockergnome, Kim Komando Show, and others, is designed to enable children to use the Internet shielded from its harmful and potentially dangerous effects. It is an essential tool for any parent who cannot physically watch over their child’s Internet use. Internet filtering and parental control software program About the tips for children listed above, iProtectYou can help in the following ways;

You can use it to block any personal information from being sent over the Internet, from your credit card numbers to your address. It offers an advanced monitoring system that enables you to check on your child’s activity at a later time that is convenient to you. You can limit the times your child can use the Internet (and the computer as a whole) and the websites to which they have access. You can block your child from entering chat rooms and instant messaging programs (MSN, ICQ, Yahoo, AOL messengers) and lessen the dangers of predators being able to communicate with your child.