Mariposa County Project Respect

Internet Safety Basics

What are the issues?

Desktop computers have been joined by latops, smart phones and tablet computers, creating a portable, always connected world in which young people exchange information, share pictures, video, and files ... all at the speed of light. With this technology comes risks and responsibilities that evolve with a childs age and social and emotional maturity. 

While there are laws and website designs in place that control the ways in which children, teens and adults interact with each other, they are easily circumvented and are only lightly supervised. The Child Online Privacy Protection Act (also known as COPPA) created specific regulations regarding content and features on websites designed for children under the age of 13, however it does not regulate internet sites or activity for children who are older. 

The risks young people may encounter online include child predators, cyber-bullying (as both prepatrators or victims), permanent, possibly legal or lifetime consequences of poor judgement that could involve their privacy or reputation, or other forms of fraud or privacy violations similar to what an adult might face. The obvious difference however, is that many young people, and especially children, lack the experience or wisdom to recognize or understand these risks and consequences.

Parents and guardians should provide gradual access to internet technology, carefully monitoring activities at first, and maintaining an open, regular dialog about thier risks, choices.

What about filtering software or other controls?

Parental control software may be of some value with younger children, especially if you are unable to consistently supervise your child's use of the internet.

Software controls or access restrictions are unlikely to be effective tools to keep your child safe as they get older. Children and teens are naturally curious. They will have access to the internet elsewhere, and once they are using portable devices, completely away from adult supervision.

This page is under construction. More to come.