How to teach kids to become more Web-savvy

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By Effendy Ibrahim [caption id="attachment_2429" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Illustration by Paolo Magtira"][/caption] Children are becoming more technologically independent at an increasingly younger age. They?re surfing websites, downloading content and creating social networking profiles on their own and it?s impossible for us parents to be with our kids all the time, to hand-hold and guide them through their entire online experience. What we can do, however, is to equip them with the tools and knowledge needed to be responsible in how they conduct themselves online and the various digital threats. One of the most important things a child should learn as they become Web-savvy is cyber ethics. Just as how you would teach your child to be respectful, honest, and considerate in the real world, it is equally vital that these values are carried over into their online lives. Children should know the difference between using and abusing the Internet and the general rule of thumb for all is to remember that the offline rules also apply in the online world. Curious cat not copycat As your child starts going online for homework and building his/her taste in music, movies, and games, it is important for you to let them know that, just like stealing another person?s belongings, it is also wrong to copy digital content and information from others. Show them legal ways to download music, movies, and games. If they are using the Internet as a research tool for their paper, show them proper ways of stating their sources and teach them how to avoid plagiarism. While we should teach our children how to purchase digital content legally, we should also make them aware of the limits when given access to your debit or credit cards. According to the Norton Online Family Report 2011, nearly a quarter of parents around the world (24 percent) who let their child use their debit/credit card to shop online say their child has used it without permission, and the same number of parents say their child has overspent on it. Stranger danger While the use of social networks and social games teaches your children to socialize with others, let them know that communicating with strangers can have real-life consequences. Hidden behind computers, a lot of cybercriminals use false identities to lure unsuspecting victims. Instead of prohibiting your children from communicating with anyone online, teach them how to interact safely with people they?ve met on the Web. Let them know that personal details such as their phone number, home address or email should not be given to strangers and that unsolicited emails should never be opened as they may contain harmful viruses and malware. Such precautions however, are not a fool-proof solution against all threats. Your child?s computer needs to be equipped with an updated security program. Mind that language When using email or IM, be sure that your children are aware of the language they use. These days, there are many acronyms being used that are actually vulgar phrases and it is important that kids respect those they talk to online and avoid saying anything that they would not say in real life. Think before you click Viruses and malware present an immediate danger online. As our children go about the cyber world, they will undoubtedly encounter a numerous flashing ads and links which offer free games or cool screensavers. Clicking on these however, would more often than not result in malicious software being downloaded onto your child?s computer, which may result in the loss or compromise of personal data. Tools such as Norton Safe Web Lite (www.safeweb.norton.com/lite) allows URLs to be scanned and provide a report on any potential risks in visiting the site, as well as helpful user reviews on the overall security of the page. This enables online users to make informed decisions on the websites they visit. It?s all in the family Monitoring your children?s online lives is key in keeping them safe online as kids get more and more used to a digital lifestyle. Using filters or a monitoring software can protect young children from stumbling on or deliberately accessing Internet sites that contain inappropriate content. The author is the Norton Internet Safety Advocate and director for Asia at Symantec ]]>

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