Today’s world requires us to be computer savvy, but for many, getting acquainted with a PC is a terrifying and frustrating experience.
Austin, Texas-based computer moms International offers its clients one-on-one computer and Internet training in their home or office to help ease the pressure. The rapidly growing company also helps families recognize hidden dangers on the Internet.
For several years, they have conveyed the need for an “adult designated driver” for every child and teen that uses online services. Computer moms asks schools to distribute Internet safety brochures to parents of elementary and middle school students to get them more involved in their kids’ Internet activities.
“Whatever your age, the Internet is a wonderful tool,” says Georgia Jones, founder of computer moms. “Unfortunately, it can also be a forum for people who exploit children and teens. Parents and kids need to be aware of its dangers and how to avoid them.”
With the school year approaching, students soon will be browsing the Internet to research assignments and keep in touch with friends. The following is a list of general hazards kids and teens may encounter online:
— Exposure to inappropriate material. We know our kids are smart and savvy, but that doesn’t mean we want them to see inappropriate things over the Internet.
— Physical endangerment. While online, a child or teen may provide personal information or arrange an encounter that could jeopardize his or her safety.
— Harassment. A child or teen may come across e-mail or bulletin board messages that are harassing, demeaning, or belligerent.
— Privacy issues and financial risks. The Internet is often home to people who try to get your money, spread computer viruses, or just pester you with unwelcome advertising and marketing material.
Jones suggests that parents enforce these simple rules to minimize the risks:
— Keep your identity private. Do not give your full name, mailing address, telephone number, name of your school, or any other personal information.
— Never meet with someone you talk to online. If you feel it is appropriate to meet someone in person, discuss it with an adult and never go to the meeting alone.
— Never respond to e-mail, chat comments or newsgroup messages that are hostile, belligerent, inappropriate or in any way make you feel uncomfortable. The best way to prevent spam and inappropriate comments is to ignore them.
Parents should follow these guidelines for keeping their kids safe on the Internet:
— Talk to your children about what they can and cannot do online.
— Place your computer in the family room or another open area of your home.
— Be open with kids and teens and encourage them to come to you if they encounter a problem online.
— Learn everything you can about the Internet.
— Research services that rate Web sites for content and block inappropriate material.
“Proper use of the Internet can bring the world to you,” says Jones. “Adequate parental controls and supervision can help alleviate the danger.”
computermoms franchisees across the country speak to groups and schools on safe surfing and other topics listed above. Visit computermoms.com to arrange for a guest speaker or for information on owning your own computermoms franchise.
Courtesy ARA Content.