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By CIOinsight  |  Posted 09-11-2007

A CIO's 20 Tips for Protecting your Children on the Internet

It's tough to protect children from the dangers of the Internet because the dangers are so many and are changing all the time. Gregory S. Smith, CIO of the World Wildlife Fund, has applied the skills and research honed during his many years in IT to the c

A CIO's 20 Tips for Protecting your Children on the Internet

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1. Protecting children on the Internet isn't just about installing a content filter and calling it a day. It takes a proactive plan that encompasses all devices that can access the Internet. Take an inventory of all such computers and devices in your home

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2. Search your computers and PDAs for traces of inappropriate content. Simple text-phrase searches across all drives are easy to do—just consult your operating system for help. Also, search for photo files (*.jpg, *.jpeg, etc.) and review by thumbna

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3. Get control of all computer administrative passwords. Without them, you'll never keep ahead of the approaches kids use today to deceive their parents and cover their online tracks.

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4. Lock down kids' PCs by revoking administrative privileges for their accounts, and limit or remove their ability to install new software. Microsoft calls these 'limited' accounts.

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5. Use filtering software to block inappropriate content (such as hate speech, racism, adult content and games) by age category. Not all programs are effective. In fact, many failed several of the tests that I conducted. The product recommended in '

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6. Don't allow children in elementary school to have e-mail accounts. These are best left for middle-school children and older.

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7. Use safe e-mail programs for children in middle school. These programs have functions that allow parents to restrict whom their children can contact. The effective packages also reduce spam, or unwanted e-mail, some of which can be harmful to children.

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8. Block social networking sites from children in elementary and middle school via a content-filtering program. Online predators love this access route, and much of the content on these sites is too mature for young children.

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9. Block popular search engines from children in elementary and middle school with a content-filtering program. There are several safe search engine alternatives available. Consult my book for a list of recommended products.

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10. If your older teenagers use social networking sites, review what they've posted (both personal and public pages), and monitor all usage via stealth software. If necessary, trap their online passwords and log in as them to see their personal profiles,

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11. Block IM tools that allow children to make phone calls over the Internet. These tools are preferred by today's predators since parents often don't see any of the call logs and may not know that their children are even using the Internet to talk to str

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12. Avoid video cameras on PCs and disable built-in devices on laptops (consult your computer's manual). Predators use them to cultivate people as online sex slaves once they've been blackmailed or exposed a weakness. There really isn't a good reason to l

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13. Don't underestimate the creativity of today's sexual predators. They're not all men looking for girls. For a shocking look at female predators, view 'When Girls Do It: The Story of Female Sexual Predators,' which can be ordered at (800) 54

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14. Report any online crimes to authorities or contact the CyberTipline at (800) 843-5678.

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15. Use stealth monitoring software on the computers of children in middle school and high school. It will expose everything they do. 'How to Protect Children on the Internet' recommends a very effective product that allows parents to play bac

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16. If possible, avoid laptops with wireless cards. Mobile devices such as laptops are more costly than desktop PCs and introduce more risks. If you purchase one for your teenager, equip it with stealth software and review the movie logs weekly.

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17. Test the effectiveness of the Internet filters used in your children's schools. In my testing, I found that several schools have deficiencies. Report any issues to the principal, and demand action where appropriate.

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18. Talk to your children about the risks of going online. Use real-world examples of tragedies—there are several listed in my book. Today's teens feel like they're invincible. Tell your children never to post personal information online and never t

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19. Trust no one online. You never know who is on the other end.

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20. Read my book: 'How to Protect Your Children on the Internet' contains a complete road map designed to give parents and educators back the control they need to keep kids safe in today's technologically sophisticated world. All recommendatio

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