Credit: Wesley Fryer / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/2959807121

Image credit: Wesley Fryer

“The single most powerful protection is your relationship with your child. The real way our kids learn how to deal with technology is by seeing how we relate to technology and pay attention to family members.” — Dr. David Pelcovitz, Professor of Education & Psychology, Yeshiva University

9th Annual Kav L’Noar Conference

Promoting Healthy Family Relationships

Balancing Technology With Parental Responsibility
Impact Of Technology On Eductional, Social, And Emotional Development
Anonymity *Availability * Accountability
Setting Boundaries In A Virtual World

A.   Introduction

The internet can be a place to learn, shop, play games, talk to your friends, and more. Unfortunately, there are also predators, identity thieves, and other people online who may try to harm you. In order to be safe online, it’s important for you and your kids to be aware of the dangers of technology. The following articles address the need to make informed decisions regarding Internet safety. They contain information and resources to help each individual make those decisions for themselves and their children. Kav L’Noar does not endorse any particular product, setup, approach, or level of protection.

B.   What unique risks are associated with children?

When a child is using a computer, normal safeguards and security practices may not be sufficient. Children present additional challenges because of their natural characteristics: innocence, curiosity, desire for independence, and fear of punishment

You may think that because the child is only playing a game, or researching a term paper, or typing a homework assignment, he or she can’t cause any harm. But what if, when saving a paper, the child deletes a necessary program file? Or what if he/she unintentionally visits a malicious web page that infects your computer with a virus? These are just two possible scenarios. Mistakes happen, but the child may not realize what he’s done or may not tell you what happened because he’s afraid of getting punished.

Online predators present another significant threat, particularly to children. Because the nature of the internet is so anonymous, it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves and manipulate or trick other users. Adults often fall victim to these ploys, and children, who are usually much more open and trusting, are even easier targets. Another growing problem is cyberbullying. These threats are even greater if a child has access to email or instant messaging programs, visits chat rooms, and/or uses social networking sites.

 C.   Understanding Online Danger

  Here a just a few of the dangers lurking on the internet:

Phishing

Phishing is a type of scam where the scammer tries to trick you into revealing your personal information. Usually it involves an email, instant message, or website that is designed to look like it’s from a legitimate company.

Piracy

In the online world, piracy refers to illegally sharing copyrighted materials. This can include music, movies, TV shows, and software.  For many kids, sharing files may seem innocent, but it can result in stiff penalties.

Cyber-stalking

Cyber-stalking is any kind of harassment or threatening behavior that occurs online. It can happen through instant messaging, text messages, emails or social networks.  If the perpetrator is a child or teen, it is often called cyberbullying

Malware

Malware is malicious software that is designed to damage your computer or steal your personal information. It includes viruses, spyware, and other types of software. Malware is often secretly bundled with other software, and it can also infect email attachments.

D.   Guidelines for Keeping Your Kids Safe

It can be difficult to keep your kids completely safe online. Even if you set up parental controls on your home computer, your kids will use many other computers that don’t have parental controls. Therefore, to keep your kids safe, you’ll need to teach them to make good decisions online even when you’re not around.

Learn everything you can about the internet. Being familiar with the internet will not only help you understand the risks; it will also help you talk to your kids.

Keep the lines of communication open. Be involved – Supervise your child’s online activities while teaching her good computer habits. Talk to your kids regularly about how they use the internet. Let your child know that she can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors or problems she may have encountered on the computer. Keep in mind that your kids could accidentally encounter a bad site, even if they’re doing everything right.

Set rules and warn about dangers – Make sure your child knows the boundaries of what she is allowed to do on the computer. These boundaries should be appropriate for the child’s age, knowledge, and maturity. You should also talk to children about the dangers of the internet so that they recognize suspicious behavior or activity. Discuss the risks of sharing certain types of information (e.g., that they’re home alone) and the benefits to only communicating and sharing information with people they more aware. Make sure to include the topic of cyberbullying.

Teach your kids to keep personal information private. It’s usually a bad idea to post personal information online such as phone numbers, addresses, or credit cards. If a criminal gains access to this information, they can use it to harm you or your family.

Teach your kids to use social networking sites safely. Sites like Facebook allow kids (and adults) to share photos and videos of themselves, have conversations with friends and strangers, and more. If your kids share something with their friends, it’s still possible for it to get into the wrong hands. Generally, they should only post something online if they’re comfortable with everyone in the world seeing it.

Monitor computer activity – Be aware of what your child is doing on the computer, including which websites she is visiting. If she is using email, instant messaging, or chat rooms, try to get a sense of who she is corresponding with and whether she actually knows them.

Consider partitioning your computer into separate accounts – Most operating systems give you the option of creating a different user account for each user. If you’re worried that your child may accidentally access, modify, and/or delete your files, you can give her a separate account and decrease the amount of access and number of privileges she has.

Consider implementing parental controls – You may be able to set some parental controls within your browser.

General Rule: Keep your computer in an open area!

 E.     Minimizing Risks at Home

Install antivirus software. Viruses and other malware are a risk for any computer. You absolutely must keep your operating system and anti-virus software up to date. Otherwise, intruders can force all sorts of images and links onto your computer. If that happens, call a technician immediately.

Use a kid-friendly search engine. Regular search engines may return results with inappropriate content that you don’t want your kids to see. Examples include KidsClick!, Yahoo! Kids, and Ask Kids.

Use parental controls. Windows and Mac OS X allow you to add parental controls to user accounts. These include time limits, website restrictions, controlling which applications can be opened, and more. You can also buy parental control software like Net Nanny, which has versions for Windows and Mac.

Filtering- there are three methods of filtering: time control, content filtering and content control. Time control sets limits on the time when internet access is available. Content filtering blocks websites that are deemed objectionable and can be done with either black lists or white lists. Black lists contain addresses for offensive websites that are also blocked. White lists assume that the entire internet is blocked except for the sites contained in this list. Each website must be approved before passing through the filter.

Ad blockingsoftware is an important example of content control. Through a simple browser add-on or filter feature, you can block all ads on a page

Monitoring – There are three types of activities often monitored: website visits, search terms and social network activity. The results can either be saved and available for an administrator to look at or sent via e-mail to the administrator. The latter includes “buddy” monitoring, in which a user selects someone to receive a detailed list of online activity.  Social network monitoring is particularly important for parents who wish to make sure their children are not over sharing information that should be kept private.                                 

 F.     Staying Safe from Online Predators

The internet is much more anonymous than the real world. People can hide their identity or even pretend to be someone they’re not. Sometimes, this can present a real danger to children and teens online. Online predators may try to lure kids and teens into sexual conversations or even face-to-face meetings. Predators will sometimes send obscene material or request that the kids send pictures of themselves. Therefore, it’s very important to teach your kids to be on their guard whenever they are online.

Cyberbullying and Cyber-Harassment

Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs online, often through instant messaging, text messages, emails, or social networks. Cyberbullies may be the same age as the victims, or they may be older. If the perpetrator is an adult, it is generally called cyber-stalking or cyberharassment.

Cyberbullying can take many different forms

  • Writing hurtful things through instant messaging, text messaging, or online games.
  • Posting derogatory messages on a social networking site.
  • Posting or sharing embarrassing photos or videos.
  • Creating a fake profile in order to humiliate someone.

Using Social Networks Safely

Social networking sites are more popular than ever, and they’ve changed the way that people use the internet. Some of the most popular sites are Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and MySpace. These sites allow people to keep in touch with their friends, share links, plan events and more.

For many teens, and even younger kids, online social networking is an important part of their lives, as it lets them talk to their friends no matter where they are.

Social networks involve a lot of sharing, including photos, videos, links, and personal information. Many kids and teens enjoy sharing these things with their friends, but they may actually be sharing information with more people than they realize.

Keep your posts private. On most social networking sites, you can choose to only share things with your friends. It’s important to always use this setting when possible, as it makes it harder for people you don’t know to gain access to your information.

Check all of your privacy settings frequently. Facebook sometimes reorganizes their privacy and account settings, which can cause your information to be shared with more people than you want. With Facebook or any other social networking site, you should review your privacy settings to make sure that they are set the way you want.

Be careful what you share. Even if you are keeping your posts private, it doesn’t guarantee that other people won’t be able to see it. For example, if you share a photo with your friends, they can easily save it to their computer and post it to another website. You shouldn’t post something online unless you’re comfortable with everyone in the world seeing it.

Don’t add strangers to your friends list. Although it may be tempting to have thousands of online “friends”, this increases the chances that your photos and personal information will be shared with the world.

Keep in mind that things you post online may stay there for years. Even if something doesn’t seem embarrassing, it may damage your reputation years later.

Use good netiquette. “Netiquette” is basically a set of guidelines for communicating online. Using good netiquette helps to ensure that the things you say aren’t misinterpreted.

I.      Mobile Device Safety

Today, many kids and teens have mobile devices such as phones, iPods, and tablet computers. Since they may keep these devices with them all the time, it’s important to know how to use them safely. If your kids use any kind of mobile device, you should talk to them about the dangers. iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches have Parental Restrictions built in. The iPod Touch has full wifi capability and a built-in Safari web browser. Learn how to use the Parental Restrictions.

Sexting

 With most mobile phones, it’s easy to take photos and send them to your friends. Since teens and preteens are curious and want to experiment, many of them take nude or sexual photos and send them to their boyfriends or girlfriends. This is known as sexting. It’s important for your kids to know that sexting can have very serious consequences. Many teens think that sexting is innocent, or that they won’t get caught. However, photos can easily be shared online or over mobile phones, so they could be seen by anyone. You should make sure your kids know how serious the consequences can be.

Geolocation

Many mobile apps use a feature called geolocation to share your location with other people. For example, if you post something using the Facebook mobile app, you can choose to add your location to your post. You can also do this with Foursquare, Twitter, and other apps. Although kids enjoy telling their friends where they are, it may be possible for criminals to use that information to learn about your child’s whereabouts. If you’re uncomfortable having your child’s location shared, you can turn off location-based services for some or all of the apps. Keep in mind that some apps (such as maps & directions apps) need to use location-based services, although they are not posting your location where others can see it.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

With a mobile device or laptop, you can often connect to the internet for free when you are at restaurants, stores, parks, and other places. These places are known as Wi-Fi hotspots. Hotspots can be very useful, but they are also less secure than your home internet connection. If your kids are using mobile devices, you’ll need to make sure they know how to use Wi-Fi hotspots safely. Additionally your kids can surf the internet and chat rooms without your supervision or without your knowledge as no mobile network plan is required.

J.      Summary  

The internet is the most powerful invention of our lifetimes. It has changed society and supported global economies. It has opened up new ways of communicating and brought previously unimaginable amounts of information to each and every one of us. Torah is now flowing through the wifi airwaves. The cumulative wisdom of human history is now available on handheld devices.

But we have to use this tool well. A filter is necessary but not enough for a kosher experience. We also need to act kosher and to think kosher. We need to learn the rules and follow them responsibly. We’ve discussed many ways to do this but no single speech can cover everything. We need to constantly learn and strive to do our best. We need to educate ourselves about technology and begin a never-ending conversation about the latest issues. You don’t have to become an expert but you do have to become conversant. You need to know what questions to ask and whom to ask.”  Rabbi Gil Student

The information in these articles was provided by:

K.  Resources

L.   The impact of technology on the Orthodox Jewish Family

Prevention and treatment of Internet related problems http://guardyoureyes.com/index.php?Itemid=150

FILTERS/ Filter Information

Free filter to download:        http://www1.k9webprotection.com/

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/Protecting-your-kids-with-Family-Safety?SignedIn=1

http://avenuemcomputers.com/asifa/asifa.pdf

AD Block- free software –  install separately for individual browser

http://adblockplus.org/en/about