Internet safety

A couple of years ago, in my two older daughters elementary school, when I was the PTA president I presented an idea of an Internet Safety night to my board and the principal of the school. Everyone thought it was great, but I quickly lost control of the planning of it. I wanted it to be a night for parents and their children to learn about internet safety because so many children were on Facebook. Yes, elementary school children as young as seven. That’s who I knew of anyways, for all I know there could have been even younger ones on Facebook. However, the principal thought it should just be for parents and then we would provide child care. He didn’t quite see my vision.

So a night was scheduled and as expected only a handful of parents showed up. Of that handful of parents half of them were PTA board members. It was very informative though. We had two local police officers who deal with internet crimes come in and put the fear of God into us talk to us about what can happen on the internet. The internet is everywhere too. Even our children’s video games are linked to the world wide web. So we really do have to be careful with what our children are doing.

I still strongly believe that our Internet Safety Night would have been a bigger success if we had gone bigger. If we had things for the children to do to learn about the internet in an age appropriate way and not to give out identifying information. Perhaps this is something I’ll bring up in my middle daughter’s new elementary school. Isn’t it amazing how we as parents warn our children not to give their names to real life strangers, but strangers over the internet we don’t think to tell them not to tell all too?

You know what though? I am afraid that I too might have done some of the faux pas things we do not want our children to do on the internet. I have actually given out my name and my children’s names. Their ages and birthdays are known. The state I live in is known. Where I draw the line is the town we live in. I try to be mindful to not divulge that information on my blog or in places where I do not know people personally. I recently had my oldest write a blog post on our family blog and she wasn’t sure if it was safe to put some information. I’m glad she checked with me first. That means she has been listening to me.

I have watched so many people though freely give out all of this information and then on top of that post pictures of their children’s school. That scares me. Now the whole world knows what town you live in and all they have to do is drive around your town and look for the picture of your child’s school. It is amazing how we don’t think about these things on the internet. We wouldn’t tell a stranger on the bus all of this info, but then on the internet we’re an open book.

We really do need to be more careful about the things we post on the internet. It is one thing when it’s just us, but then when you start talking about your children too you have to hold back some things. We have a safe word in place though for our children with strangers. Not that I can ever think of a situation where someone they didn’t know would be picking them up from somewhere, but if that did happen then my children have been given a special word that only we know.

How do your make sure your children are safe from strangers and the dangers on the internet?

Please don’t forget to vote for my 9 year old in the Messiest Eater contest.

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