Safety in Cyberspace

Safety Savvy

If you or your child receives information online that you think is illegal or threatening to you or others, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's 24-hour, toll-free child pornography tip line. Operated in cooperation with the U.S. Customs Service and the Postal Inspection Service, the CyberTipline may be reached at 800-843-5678 or on the Web at

Chat Rooms

Chat rooms enable live conversations with a group of other people. Some have private areas where two or more friends can engage in a private chat. Some have moderators who lead discussions, and others have monitors who will kick someone out for inappropriate language or subject matter.

Chat rooms probably are the most dangerous aspect of the Web for kids. This is the place where strangers make friends. Child predators may enter these sites, strike up conversations with young people, and, in rare cases, lure them into face-to-face meetings.

Explain to your kids that just because a chat room participant identifies herself as a 13-year-old girl doesn't mean she is a 13-year-old. She might actually be a 35-year-old with harmful intentions. A chat room that's for kids only doesn't necessarily have only kids in it.

Safety Savvy

To avoid harassment, girls especially should pick gender-neutral names to use as their identifiers in chat rooms.

Handling Junk E-Mail

Many commercial enterprises send unsolicited e-mail—sometimes called “spam”—to sell their products or services. Some of these businesses may operate sexually explicit web sites and send messages that lure potential customers—and in some cases, kids—to a sample of a site. Return addresses can be deliberately misleading, so a message that looks innocent may not be. If you receive objectionable material through e-mail, contact your Internet service provider so it can investigate its origin.

Web Site Safety

Some kids set up their own Web sites, or home pages, through their schools or their home Internet providers. If your child wants to try it, caution her not to put her address, phone number, or photo on the site.

Safety Savvy

“Kids and Company: Together for Safety” is the title of a personal-safety curriculum for grades K-8 that was developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Endorsed by such leading groups as the National Education Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the program can be used in both schools and community groups. For more information, call 800-892-7430.

When visiting Web sites, kids sometimes encounter an offer to enter a contest or receive a promotional item. These usually require them to enter information about themselves. Typically, this data is used for marketing products. Tell your kids to check with you before providing any data to a Web site.

Filtering Software

If you feel you need help setting Internet limits for your child, look into software that screens out unwanted content. Some such child-friendly Internet software allows you to preselect the sites you want your children to be able to access, and keep your kids from entering chat rooms. No system is foolproof, however. For this reason, it's important to establish clear guidelines about what your child can and cannot do when using the Internet.

Many Internet providers make these types of controls available for free with their service. Check your provider to see what it offers.

<< Previous: Setting the rules

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Child Safety © 2000 by Miriam Bacher Settle, Ph.D., and Susan Crites Price. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks