Child Safety Tips
Teach kids never to give out personal information such their address, phone number, real name, or the address of their school to random people with whom they converse on the Net. For example, if a child meets someone during a chat session, it would not be wise to start giving out personal information. There are other situations in which they may be asked for personal information. For example, many sites ask for the user's full name, address, etc. on a registration page. Instruct young people to get parental permission before filling out registration forms. Kids and teens should be taught never to give out family information (such as a parent's credit card number) to individuals they meet online. In addition, they should not give out the name of their parents' employers. Teach kids not to send anyone their picture without getting parental permission first. Teach kids never to agree to meet with someone they met online before getting parental permission. If a meeting is arranged, make the first one in a public spot, and be sure to accompany your child. Teach kids not to answer any message that is mean or that makes them feel uncomfortable. Teach kids that there are both good and bad places on the Internet. Put the computer in the family room or other public area, rather than a bedroom. Review the logs of the sites your child has visited. Keep your password to the Internet a secret and change it often. Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by your children . Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder. Remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. A child or teenager's excessive use of online services or bulletin boards, especially late at night, may be a clue that there is a potential problem. Remember that personal computers and online services should not be used as electronic baby-sitters. Visit the other places where your children might have access, such as libraries, schools and friends' homes. Make sure you are comfortable with the ways these locations deter offensive access. Teach your children how to interpret and evaluate the material that they see around them. Teach your children they have the right to say no.
VCRs, and other forms of electronic activities, computer use with young
children automatically brings up issues and concerns for parents. We worry
about whether or not these powerful machines will have negative effects,
and wonder what our expectations should be for the influence they might
have on children's education and development.
Myth # 1. Computers will make my child smarter.
There is some
truth to this idea. There is no doubt that a computer and great software
can be a fun and exciting learning tool and can even provide practice of
pre-academic and academic skills. Keep in mind, however, that computer
software cannot teach kids concepts that they are not developmentally ready
for. For instance, your preschooler may not be able to handle (and will
be frustrated with) a program focused on reading short words. He may be
more ready for a program that provides light exposure to pre-reading skills
like letter recognition, identifying patterns and classifying objects.
Also remember that young children learn best with plenty of well-rounded
hands-on experiences. Computers should always be considered a supplement
to other, more concrete learning activities like completing puzzles, building
with Legos and blocks, reading books, creating art projects and playing
on the playground.
Myth # 2: Sitting close to a computer screen will damage my child's eyes.
Not true. According
to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, computer monitors (or VDTs) are
considered to be safe for normal use and present no hazard to the eye.
"There is no convincing experimental or epidemiologic evidence that exposure
to VDTs results in cataracts or any other organic damage to the eye." For
a more detailed report, contact the Academy at 415-561-8500.
Myth # 3: Computers give off harmful radiation.
In our daily
lives, we are constantly bombarded by a spectrum of radiation. The electromagnetic
rays given off by the computer are of the safe, nonionizing variety. A
number of useful studies have been conducted by scientists at the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Radiological Health and Devices,
Bell Laboratories, and The National Institute of Occupational Safety and
Health. The data from their work indicates that computer VDTs "…emit little
or no harmful ionizing (e.g., x-rays) or nonionizing (e.g., infrared) radiation
under normal operating conditions." In fact, according to their report,
the amount of ultraviolet radiation produced by a typical computer monitor
is a small fraction of that produced by florescent lighting (See NIOSH
Publication No. 81-129, June 1981).
Myth # 4: My child will become less social by using the computer.
the zombie-like posture that children often take when watching television
... hardly a social experience. Educators and parents have similarly been
concerned about possible negative effects of the computer on children's
desire to interact with others. Unlike television, however, the more interactive,
child-controlled nature of some computer software can be conducive to sharing,
taking turns and playing games together. While the television doesn't know
if the child is in the same room, the computer, in a sense, does, by providing
activities that adjust to children's individual responses and by giving
customized feedback. Just like toys, different types of software can influence
the way kids play. Some programs, for example, have options for one or
two players, increasing the opportunity for making computer use a shared
activity. Of course, as with any activity, too much of a good thing is
probably not healthy, and a child who spends an inordinate amount of time
on the computer may need help in setting limits.
Myth # 5: My child should understand how computers work.
show an interest, don't feel obliged to teach your child about the inner
workings of a computer, or terms like CPU and so on. It's simply not necessary
at this young age. More important is that they learn how to use computers
... to point and click, click and drag, use pull down menus, and so on.
How do they do this? With your guidance, naturally, but best of all&emdash;through
their own exploration and discovery.
Myth # 6: Making my child computer literate now will better prepare her for the future.
There is some
truth to this notion. Familiarity and comfort with computers is certainly
useful for daily survival, both in and out of school. The risk associated
with this myth comes from placing too much emphasis on the computer as
a "must" for children's future welfare. It's a better mindset to regard
computer use as simply one more experience that can support the development
of good old fashioned learning skills such as being able to read and write,
think logically, and solve and analyze problems. It can also enhance the
learning process by allowing kids to have experiences not possible without
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