As a school we take internet safety very seriously. Our students will be using the internet and it is our responsibility to ensure they use the internet in a safe way. I will be running an interactive workshop in the near future to further enhance this important subject, but thought I would start here with some brief guidelines on chat rooms. Please share them with all the children in your house, this way we can all make the internet a safer place.
Child Security in Chat Rooms
Chat rooms have long been a favourite pastime on the internet for children. They can be great fun and the children can make some great new friends online. The problem with chat rooms is that they are generally anonymous, so the person that they are chatting to may not be who they say they are.
Unless you supervise your children whenever they are in a chat room then controlling who they chat to can be a problem, although, there are some general guidelines that your children can follow to make their online chatting safer:
- Stay anonymous, they should use a nickname while online, and never reveal their real name.
- Never tell anyone where they live, not even if they have been chatting to the person for years.
- Never tell anyone what school they go to.
- Never give out phone numbers.
- Never agree to meet someone without a parent present, and ensure the person they are going to meet knows a parent will be accompanying them.
- Tell an adult if anything strange happens or anything is said to them that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Introduce yourself in the chat room to their online friends, especially if your child wants to meet them.
Although these guidelines may seem fairly obvious, by ensuring that your children follow them they can help remove some of the dangers.
There are so many different filters available on the market. Having had a trawl through different reviews the best seems to be in the form of these three
- Safe Eyes
- Cyber Patrol
- Net Nanny
Safe Eyes, CyberPatrol and Net Nanny all do a good job blocking questionable websites and monitoring kids’ time online, but each program has different advantages. Cyber Patrol’s big advantage is versatility. It gives parents more options than any other competing product. Customisation can apply to any or all users. All parental control software lets users restrict kids’ access to Internet applications like chat, file-sharing or web browsing, but Windows-only CyberPatrol can also restrict access to programs on the computer’s hard drive, such as games or finance software. The catch is that CyberPatrol can only be installed on one computer.
Another good site to look at is Christian internet filtering.com this looks at filtering from a Christian perspective. It is an American site but gives good advice from a spiritual angle. The site discusses the fact that most packages are able to be turned off by an adult. The Christian filter prevents this and illustrates the point of temptation by using biblical figures such as David, Solomon and Samson.
There doesn’t seem to be a package that is a panacea for all but hopefully this will give you hints as to what is best – don’t forget you can protect yourself with a basic Google package. In the Google home page click on search settings and change to ‘use strict filtering’ – Remember this is for Google only!
Remember that using the internet for most people is a safe enjoyable activity, but research tells us that sites will find their way to our PC’s in the form of pop ups and emails leading to sites that are not suitable for our children unless we have a good internet protection package.