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Citizen Services

Internet Safety

The Internet is an increasingly important place for children to learn, work and play. But it also presents challenges for parents, teens and younger children, especially considering the anonymity that masks users. You can help your child avoid online pornography and encounters with predators, hackers and others who would exploit children and their personal information by establishing rules for Internet use, and making sure the rules are enforced.
  • Choose search engines carefully. Some are specifically designed for kids, and others offer kid-safe options.
  • Tell kids when they come across any material making them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused to immediately tell you or another trusted adult.
  • Help kids find information online. By searching the Internet together you help them find reliable sources of information and distinguish fact from fiction.
  • Talk with your kids about their e-mail accounts, and discuss the potential risks involved. Remind them to never share passwords with anyone but you, not even their closest friends.

Email

  • Before you sign up with a service provider, research the effectiveness of its spam filters. You may also purchase spam-filter software separately.
  • Teach kids not to open spam or e-mails from people they don't know in person. Remind them not to respond to any online communication in a sexually provocative way. Ask them to show you suspicious communications.
  • If your kids receive e-mail containing threats or material making them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused, report it to your service provider. Your provider's address is usually found on their home page.

Chat Acronyms

  • AFAIK – As far as I know
  • AFK – Away from keyboard
  • ASL – Age? Sex? Location?
  • BB – Bathroom break
  • BF – Boyfriend
  • BRB – Be right back
  • CUL8R or CULR – See you later
  • HW – Homework
  • IDC – I don't care
  • KOTC – Kiss on the cheek
  • LOL – Laugh out loud
  • LYL – Love you lots
  • LYLAS or LYLAB – Love you like a sister (or brother)
  • OMG – Oh, my God
  • POS – Parent over shoulder
  • SN – Screen name
  • TMI – Too much information

Instant Messaging

  • Remind kids to IM only people they know in real life and who have been approved by you.
  • Use privacy settings to limit contact to only those on your child's buddy list. Make sure other users cannot search for your child by his or her e-mail address and username.
  • Make sure both your kids and you are familiar with the blocking features available on most IM services. Tell your kids to block any sender they don't know who IMs them.
  • Take the time to learn the online lingo used by kids so you understand what they are talking about with each other.
  • What's a P911? It's shorthand for "parent alert" ' a code some kids use to let others know a parent or guardian is watching. If you have trouble translating your kids' online "lingo," visit www.NetSmartz.org. There you'll find a list of popular terms and abbreviations used in IM and chat rooms.

Social Networking

  • Ask your kids about the people they are communicating with online.
  • Insist your kids never give out personal information or arrange to meet in person with someone they've met online without first checking with you.

Video and Photo Posting

  • Talk to your kids about the possible implications of sending sexually explicit or provocative images of themselves or others.
  • Kids should use webcams or post photographs online only with your knowledge and supervision.
  • Remind your kids to ask themselves if they would be embarrassed if their friends or family saw the pictures or videos they post online. If the answer is yes, then they need to stop.
  • Remind kids to be aware of what is in the camera's field of vision and remember to turn the camera off when it is not in use.
  • Caution kids about posting identity-revealing or sexually provocative photographs. Don't allow them to post photographs of others ' even their friends ' without permission from their friends' parents or guardians. Remind them once such images are posted they lose control of them and can never get them back.
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