On-line computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for children, yet at the same time it can leave them vulnerable to exploitation and harm from on-line predators. Fort Collins Police urge parents to take the following steps to help minimize the chances of your child becoming a victim to on-line predators.
Communicate. Talk to your child about sexual victimization and the potential of on-line dangers.
Spend time with your children on-line.
Establish rules for on-line use including blogging, instant messaging and chat rooms.
Keep Internet-connected computers in an open area.
Consider using parental monitoring and/or blocking software.
Use logging features and parental controls.
Find out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child's school, the public library, and at the homes of your child's friends.
Instruct your children to never:
give out personal information on-line;
arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on-line;
post (or upload) pictures of themselves onto the internet or electronically send photographs to people they do not know; and
respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing.
Remind your children that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true.
Educate yourself, evaluate blogging services and see if they offer private or password protected blogs or "friends only" functions.
Review on-line "Personal Profiles" for instant messaging accounts, chat rooms and blogging web-sites.
Review your blogs and screen what kids post. Seemingly innocent information such as town name, school mascot or school name can provide unwanted information as to a student's identity and location.
Report suspicious activity to the appropriate authority, including, local law enforcement, cybertipline and ISP (internet service provider)