SAN FRANCISCO — Law enforcement and technology specialists offered the following advice for parents on keeping children and teens safe online.
- Talk to your children about what they do online and encourage them to talk to you about anything that makes them uncomfortable. Don’t overreact: Many children won’t tell their parents about an unpleasant experience for fear their access will be taken away.
- Sit with them during their activities to get a feel for their online environments. Keep personal computers in common areas rather than in bedrooms.
- Educate yourself with resources such as those at Netsmartz411.org, GetNetWise.org, ConnectSafely.org and WiredSafety.org. They offer detailed guides for parents on basic principles, recommend social networking practices and safety software that can be installed at home.
- Watch out for and consider disabling location services on smartphones, including the location-tagging feature on photos.
- Be aware that almost anything a computer can do, a smartphone can do. Make sure you know the functions of the apps that are installed.
- Make sure that your children register with their true ages on social networks, online games and other services. Read the privacy and security policies and look for any parental controls.
- Teach your children that people they communicate with on the Net may not be who they seem and that they should never reveal their full names, street or electronic addresses or other sensitive data, including photos. Make sure they never share passwords.
- Consider installing filtering and monitoring software for both home computers and smartphones. Review the logs to see where your kids have been going online.