Your Family - Internet Safety

Left AlignIf you're a seasoned internet surfer you'll know that the cyberworld can have its downfalls.

That doesn't mean you should stop your children enjoying the internet, but you can take precautions.

Here are the top tips for concerned parents:

1. Tell your children they should never reveal information such as their name, address, mobile phone number, email address, school, or any other clue to their identity.

2. Discourage children from entering private or one-to-one conversations in chat rooms, they should stick to the public areas where they'll be much safer.

3. Tell your children not to meet up with someone they've chatted to online, unless they take you or another trusted adult along with them.

4. Encourage your children to be open about bad experiences they've had online. If they have had a bad experience, reassure them by telling them it's not their fault, and don't react by instantly banning them from going online.

5. Ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about its safety features. Find out how to alter the "content" settings on your browser (use "help" on your browser)

6. Special filtering software allows you to steer your children away from certain websites or chat rooms, but be aware that no filtering tools are 100% foolproof - your child may well know how to get round them.

7. Create a "favourites" folder of mutually agreed sites that your children can visit.

8. Get in touch with the police straightaway if you think your children may have been approached by a paedophile. All UK police forces now have specialist officers dealing with Internet crime.

9. Report illegal material to the Internet Watch Foundation on 08456 008844, which will seek to have it removed.

10. And most of all, try to help them enjoy what the world wide web has to offer.

11. Positioning your computer in a family room is another way of discouraging misuse of the Internet. Some parents actually "spy" on their children to see what they have been up to online, and you can even buy software to help you do this. However, although this is useful in extreme situations, think carefully about how spying could affect your relationship in terms of trust, and again be aware that children can be surprisingly good at getting round such measures.