Internet Dangers

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  Donna Rice Hughes

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Rules ‘N Tools™
for Social Networking Sites

A Guide for Parents, Guardians
and Educators


Enough Is Enough believes that minor children under the age of 17 are safest when they are not on social networking sites or online gaming sites. Law enforcement will confirm that it is difficult to protect kids on these sites because it is impossible to detect disguised predators online. Additionally, these sites contain inappropriate content, language and even some pornography. Parents must decide whether the benefit outweighs the risk regarding social networking sites. If parents choose to allow their minor children on these sites, please follow our “Parent and Guardian Guidelines”.

Rules ‘N Tools™: Implement both safety rules and software tools to protect your children online one without the other is ineffective.


  • Teach your children to never give personal information over the Internet, such as name, address, telephone number, password, parents' names, the name of any club or team he/she is involved in, name of his/her school, or after school job.

    In January of 2005 in Lafayette, Louisiana, a 16-year-old girl was attacked by a 37-year-old man who read her profile on and tracked her down at her after-school job.
  • Pay Attention to Online Photos: Know the type of photos your child is posting online. It is wisest to encourage your child not to post any photos online. Children use various forms of technology to post information and photos online, such as videos and web cams. Photos from camera phones can also be uploaded. Parents should be aware of the imagery their children post on the Web—these images most likely pose a risk to their children, exposing them to online predators and strangers. Even innocent photos can attract a predator.

    Even innocent pictures of school activity on a school Web site have attracted the attention of one predator who became obsessed and kidnapped a child from his school (The Decatur Daily News. 23 May 2006).

  • Know your kids’ online activities and friends. Regularly ask your kids about their online friends and activities. Role-play with your child the various dangerous scenarios they could encounter online.

    Almost one in eight youth ages 8-18 discovered that someone they were communicating with online was an adult pretending to be much younger (Internet safety: Realistic Strategies & Messages for Kids Taking More and More Risks Online. December 21, 2005. Polly Klaas Foundation. February 17, 2006 <>).

  • Instruct your child never to plan a face-to-face meeting.

    One-third of youth ages 8-18 have talked about meeting someone they have only met through the Internet (Polly Klaas Foundation, December 21, 2005).

  • Supervise Computer Use: Keep your child’s computer in an open area of your home and be aware of other computers and other devices children may be using outside of the home. Placing the computer in an area, such as the kitchen or family room, gives parents the ability to supervise a child’s online navigation. Pay attention to other computer and Internet-enabled mobile devices children are using.

    30% of parents allow their teenagers to use the computer in private areas of the house such as a bedroom or a home office. Parents say they are more vigilant about where their teen(s) go online if the computer is in a public area of the household (NCMEC/ Cox5/24/05).

  • Keep the Lines of Communication Open: Use the Internet with your child. Parents should be proactive about their child’s online activities. Spend time alongside your child and establish an atmosphere of trust. This provides an opportunity for parents to engage in dialogue about websites their children visit and programs they are using. Parents should be open to learning about technology so they can keep up with their children. Understanding how children use the Internet will give parents a better idea of the risks they may face.

    65% of all parents and 64% of all teens say that teens do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about (Pew Internet & American Life Project, March 17, 2005).

  • Act Like the Child: Search blog sites children visit to see what information they are posting. To ensure that children are not engaging in risky online behavior, we recommend that parents do a simple online search. Parents can type in their child’s name, nickname, school, hobbies, grade, or residence to determine information availability. Supervise blogs -not only what your child is posting but what other kids are posting about your child.

    86% of the girls polled said they could chat online without their parents’ knowledge, 57% could read their parents’ e-mail, and 54% could conduct a cyber relationship (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2002).

  • Limit and monitor the amount of time your child spends on the Internet, and at what times of day. Excessive time online, especially at night, may indicate a problem. Remind your child that Internet use is a privilege, not a right.

    23% of youth reported being “very” or “extremely upset” by exposures to sexual material (Victimization of Youths on the Internet, 2003).

  • Establish online rules and an agreement with your child about Internet use at home and outside of the home (i.e., at a friend's house, at school, at the library, etc).

    77% of parents do not have rules about what their kids can do on the computer, such as restricting the amount of time their kids spend on the computer (Kaiser Family Foundation Study, March 2005).

  • Virtual Parenting: Set-up the family’s Internet service accounts. Parents should take an active role in setting up Internet service accounts, including any online community services children may join. Parents should regularly monitor accounts to supervise online friends, chat areas and blogs. It is safest to block all chat rooms and limit instant messaging to a parent-approved buddy list.

    Approximately 89% of sexual solicitations of youth were made in either chat rooms or through Instant Messaging (Pew Study reported in JAMA, 2001).


  • Monitoring Software: Install software to manage where children go online. Monitoring software gives parents the ability to view activity on the Internet and identify their child’s online buddies. These programs give parents a better understanding of what their child is doing online, where they are going, and empowers parents to set online boundaries for their children.

    Over half (51%) of parents either do not have or do not know if they have software on their computer(s) that monitors where their teenager(s) go online and with whom they interact (NCMEC/Cox 5/24/05).
  • Exercise Parental Control: Implement Filtering tools. Parental control tools are provided by some Internet Service Providers (ISP) or are available for purchase as separate software packages. These tools allow parents to restrict websites a child can view from their home computer. Settings are password-protected. Remember – no filter is a substitute for parental supervision.

    More than 11 million teens regularly view porn online (The Washington Post, July 1, 2004).

  • Restrict Access: Use privacy settings to restrict access to the child’s website. Social networking sites provide a variety of privacy settings that limit who can view the child’s website. By using these privacy tools, parents may be able to approve which friends from school, clubs, teams, and community groups are able to view a child’s profile or blog, and block unknown individuals from accessing a child’s information. On most social networking websites, you can access and change your child’s privacy settings by clicking on “account settings.” Remember that no one can detect a disguised predator. Predators can still penetrate ‘youth only’ spaces.

    Authorities say teens are finding trouble in the social networking environment where millions of people, can in seconds, find out where they go to school, learn their interests, download their pictures and instantly send them messages(Associated Press, 2/4/06).

  • Be a Technical Geek: Secure the family computer by regularly updating the operating system and installing a firewall, and up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software. The instant a computer is connected to the Internet or an “always on” broadband connection, hackers and thieves can attempt to gain access to the family’s financial and personal information. By securing your computer, you can protect against these Internet intruders and the malicious programs they can download onto your computer.

    For more information, please visit these sites:

© 2001 by Donna Rice Hughes. Request permission if you wish to reprint or post.