Community Report: Tahoe Women’s Services

Long gone are the days that strangers on the street were the only dangerous persons from whom you had to protect your children. As today’s culture pushes computer savvy and digital everything, parents are confronted with new parenting challenges in the field of technology. The Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids for a variety of reasons. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids and play games. Any child old enough to use a keyboard can literally access the world.

Web access is a privilege that can be as dangerous as it is useful. Now, more than ever before, it is important for parents to work closely with their children to prevent online abuse on all fronts. The best thing parents and educators can do is to empower youth with the knowledge and experience they need to safely explore cyber-space. Here are some tips on how to help your child safely explore the web:

Inform your child about potential dangers, such as online predators, cyber romances, social networking, blogging, cyber bullying and identity theft. Encourage your child to use internet safety games and interactive tools that teach them how to safely explore the web such as Web Wise Kids’

If your child uses chat rooms, remind him or her never to give out personal information such as name, address, school name or telephone number. Also, caution the child to never send a picture of himself or herself to someone without your permission.

Keep computers in family rooms within the house so you can monitor your child’s computer usage.

Create your own Facebook or MySpace page if you are concerned your teen is using his or her page inappropriately. “Friending” your child will allow you to monitor his or her usage.

Online tools are also available that will let you control your kid’s access to adult material and help protect them from internet predators. Again, since no option is going to guarantee your child will be risk-free on the internet, it is important to be aware of his or her computer activities and educate them about online risks.

Additionally, a federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was created to help protect kids while exploring the internet. COPPA helps prevent strangers from obtaining a child’s personal information without parental consent. It also ensures children are not required to provide unnecessary information, such as providing personal information for activities such as playing a game.

” Catherine Marinac, Client Services AmeriCorps Volunteer

Help support our fundraising efforts by visiting our new online store. Merchandise includes t-shirts, fleece vests, sweatshirts, beanies and hats, bumper stickers, coffee mugs and more You can visit our online store by going to our Web site under the heading “Donations.” There, you can also find information about our ongoing cell phone recycling program including a list of current collection sites.

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