Top 10 internet safety tips for kids

Using common sense to stop online threats...

With our children at school, many will be using the Internet for educational and social networking opportunities as well as viewing the latest music and video clips and playing online games.

To help maintain an Internet Safety Plan - McAfee, Inc., a leading dedicated security technology company, has released 10 easy-to-enforce safety tips for the whole family.

1. Place your computer in a high-traffic family area


The placement of your computer is one of the first and best decisions you can make for your children. Put the computer in a high-traffic family area like the living room. This gives you an opportunity to limit its use and monitor your child's internet activities.

2. Set boundaries together

Start by discussing what is ok and what is not ok when it comes to:

  • The kind of web sties that are appropriate to visit
  • The chat rooms, networking sites and forums that are appropriate to participate in
  • The kind of things they can talk about and language that is appropriate

3. Agree on a list of rules

Instead of enforcing a set of rules on your children, it helps to agree on a list of rules together. Rules will vary according to age of your children. Younger children will need to have limits set on the amount of time they are allowed access to the Internet. Other rules may include points like:
  • No user names that reveal true identity or that are provocative
  • Never tell anyone your password or give out your phone numbers or address
  • Never post personally identifying information or pictures without parental permission
  • Never share any information with strangers met online
  • Never meet with strangers met online

After you have agreed on the rules, place the rules next to the computer.

4. Take an active interest in your kid's online activities

Learn to browse and chat online so that you understand what your child is doing. You can even ask your kids to teach you!

5. Protect your computer with strong security software

Install software that protects against malicious viruses, unwanted emails and adverts. It is best to install software with automatic security updates.

6. Enable Parental Controls

Be sure to use parental control software that protects your kids from accessing dangerous websites, limit the time they spend on the Internet, filter out keywords and block inappropriate images. Consider using child safety monitoring software like IMSaferTM. Download software that warns you about dangerous websites. McAfee SiteAdvisorTM provides easy to understand colour-coded web site ratings.

7. Remind your children that people in chat rooms are ALWAYS strangers

No matter how often they chat with them or how well they think they know them, people met online are still strangers. It is important that your kids are careful when it comes to divulging personal information. They need to learn how to assess genuine online contacts from those with a different agenda. Advise your kids to watch out for online strangers asking for photographs, contact details or wanting to meet up.

8. Create and use good passwords

Create passwords that would be hard to figure out by using a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. Also, regularly change your passwords to avoid them being compromised over time. Never share your passwords, especially with strangers.

9. Check to ensure that your Internet security is enabled


This is a simple process particularly for PCs with Microsoft Windows XP service. Click on the start menu, choose control panel and then click on Security Centre. Here you will want to confirm that the following default settings are active:

  • Internet Options - confirm that the security level is on "medium-high"
  • Windows firewall - confirm this is on "as recommended"
  • Automatic updates - confirm this is on "as recommended"

10. Read up online security issues


The more you know, the safer you should be. Check out McAfee's advice centre for easy to read and understand educational materials on computer and internet security. You can make learning about Internet safety fun and interactive for your children through educational games.

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