June is nationally recognized as Internet Safety Month and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard believes that the summer is the best time for parents to broach the subject of online safety with their children.
Summer vacation means children and teens have more time to peruse the web, and according the Goddard, online predators, cyberbullying, or inappropriate websites could be waiting for them.
Wiredsafety.org is a resource that offers comprehensive information on Internet safety for parents and kids.
It’s also filled with material on cybercrime, cyberlaw, cyberbullying and cyberdating.
According to the website, 85 percent of kids admit they have been bullied online, but only 5 percent said they would alert their parents.
Nightmares, school avoidance or sudden interest in or avoidance of the computer could be signs that your child may be a victim of cyberbullying.
Some of Goddard’s tips to protect children from cyberbullying include:
• Notifying the school and requesting assistance from the administration
• Blocking messages from bullies and saving the evidence
• Contacting the website hosting page or law enforcement to have embarrassing photos or personal information about your child removed from the Internet.
Goddard also recommends that parents regularly check the social networking sites that their children are members of.
Two of the biggest information-sharing sites, Facebook and YouTube, have customizable settings to help ensure the safety of children.
YouTube celebrated the start of Internet Safety Month by replacing advertisements on its homepage with a spotlight on Internet safety tip videos.
A brief statement ensured that the videos will help Internet users “have the best possible experience on YouTube and across the Web.”
YouTube also offers ‘Safety Mode’ to help parents control the content and comments that their children can access.
Facebook has recently simplified its privacy settings, making it easier for children to modify their profiles for maximum privacy control.
Wiredsafety.org and YouTube both have Facebook tutorials that help kids and parents understand and control their privacy settings.
The websites feature kid friendly search engines that only bring up age-appropriate content.
Erica Tiffany is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.