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Family Safety on the Internet  - Some Free Advice for Parents and Carers

Set Family Rules for Internet Use

family Before you allow your child to go online without your supervision, make sure you establish a set of rules that you can all agree on.

If you're not sure where to start, here are some ideas on what to discuss with your children to teach them about using the Internet more safely.


Encourage your children to share their Internet experiences with you. Enjoy the Internet along with your children.


Teach your children to trust their instincts. If they feel nervous about anything online, they should tell you about it.


If your children visit chat rooms, use instant messaging (IM) programs (such as Windows Messenger), online video games, or other activities on the Internet that require a login name to identify themselves, help them choose that name and make sure it doesn't reveal any personal information about them.


Insist that your children never give out your address, phone number, or other personal information, including where they go to school or where they like to play.


Teach your children that the difference between right and wrong is the same on the Internet as it is in real life.


Show your children how to respect others online. Make sure they know that rules for good behaviour don't change just because they're on a computer.


Insist that your children respect the property of others online. Explain that making illegal copies of other people's work—music, video games, and other programs—is just like stealing it from a store.


Tell your children that they should never meet online friends in person. Explain that online friends may not be who they say they are.


Teach your children that not everything they read or see online is true. Encourage them to ask you if they're not sure.


Control your children's online activity with advanced Internet software. Parental controls can help you filter out harmful content, monitor the sites your child visits, and find out what they do there.

Although software can help you protect your family from inappropriate content on the Web, there is no substitute for teaching your children a few basic rules. Talk to your them about the risks of going online, and teach them how to handle uncomfortable situations. Set limits, and discuss them with your children. Together, you can create a fun and safer environment for your them online.

There’s a lot of ‘Parental Control’ Software available to purchase, or download free, and most good Anti-Virus programs will allow you to block access to specific sites or domains.

However, there are ways to use Microsoft software, included with Windows and MSN, to help protect your children from inappropriate

That said, no technology can be a replacement for parental involvement. Take an interest in what your child does online without (and we know this is hard) appearing to be too nosey or restrictive. If you can, discreetly keep an eye on what they’re doing – have the main computer in a Family Room where possible so it doesn’t look too obvious!

Here are some tips for protecting your children's privacy and safety when they're using the computer.

Step 1:

Decide Where Your Child Can and Can't Go On the Internet: It's a good idea to check out some sites for children. Pay particular interest to sites that collect personal information. If you don't agree with the privacy statement of a particular site or if you don't want to give away any of your child's personal information, do a little searching and you may find a similar site that doesn't request any information at all.

Block Inappropriate Content: One of the best defences against inappropriate content is to block it before it gets to you. With Microsoft software there are a few different ways you can do this.

Windows Parental Controls: As a parent you have a unique opinion on what kind of content is appropriate for your child depending on his age, maturity, and your personal beliefs. Windows has a powerful set of parental control features to help parents monitor, manage, and administer their children's computer use—and help keep them safe

Windows Live Family Safety: Software that helps you filter information based on each child's age to help protect them from content you don't want them to see. You can also limit searches, block or allow certain Web sites, and monitor what your children are doing online. You'll also have access to guidelines on how to help a child use online communications safely or how parents should talk to children about inappropriate Web browsing. 

Step 2:

Increase Your Security And Privacy: In addition to blocking inappropriate content, it's a good idea to block sites and downloads that may be a risk to your security and privacy.

Create Different User Accounts. With Windows 7, Vista and XP, you can create multiple user accounts for your computer. Each user can log on separately and has a unique profile with his or her own Desktop and My Documents folder.  As a parent you can give yourself an Administrator account with full control over the computer, and give your children Limited User accounts, with restricted controls. Limited Users cannot change system settings or install new hardware or software, including most games, media players, and chat programs.

Adjust Web Browser Security Settings. You can also help protect your child through your Web browser. Internet Explorer helps you control your security and privacy preferences by allowing you to assign security levels to Web sites. Internet Explorer 6 and above helps protect your privacy while you're on the Web by providing features that help control how Web sites track your activities.

Step 3:

Keep Track Of Where Your Children Go Online: It may not always be possible to be present while your children are surfing the Web. But it is possible to check later to see where your children have spent their time online. By reviewing the History list in Internet Explorer, you can see all the places your children visited on the Web. To view your Internet History, click the History button on the browser toolbar.  

With MSN parental controls you can receive a weekly e-mail report that details your child's recent online activity, including the total time spent online, Web sites they visited or tried to visit, e-mail addresses and MSN Messenger IDs of people with whom he corresponded, and files they downloaded. 

Step 4:

Remind Children Not To Talk To Strangers Online

Real-time chats and instant messaging can be a great way for children to discuss their interests and build friendships. But the anonymity of the Internet can also put children at risk of falling victim to imposters and predators. To help minimize your children's vulnerability, teach them to take precautions such as:

Using only a first name or nickname to identify themselves.

Never disclosing a phone number or address.

Never sending photographs of themselves.

Never agreeing to meet someone they met online without supervision.

To help protect your children from being contacted by strangers while instant messaging, configure your software to allow only approved contacts.

To block unknown contacts in Windows Messenger:


Click Tools.


Select Options.


Choose the Privacy tab.


Add people you know to the Allow list and block all other users.

An "approved list" to help parents limit their children's e-mail exchanges is also a feature of MSN 9.

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