• Online Rules Every Kid Should Follow
    • Never share your personal information (like name, age, or location).
    • Never share your password.
    • Don't download games or programs, even if they're free, without getting Mom's or Dad's permission first.
    • Never click on e-mails from anyone you don't know.
    • Don't click on anything that pops up in another window -- even if it looks like a free game or a trip to Disney.
    • Always be polite and think before you type.
    • Never chat with someone who isn't your friend in real life.


    Young people are using the Internet more than ever and most have Internet access from home. For many children, the Internet isn't simply a convenient way to research or a fun after-school activity - it's a big part of their social life. Emailing and chatting with friends are a child's most common online activities, after studying and playing games. But like many other social situations, some kids bully others online.

    Cyberbullying is similar to other types of bullying, except it takes place online and through text messages sent to cell phones. Cyberbullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even anonymous users, but most often they do know their victims.

    Some examples of ways kids bully online are:

    • Sending someone mean or threatening emails, instant messages, or text messages.
    • Excluding someone from an instant messenger buddy list or blocking their email for no reason.
    • Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.
    • Breaking into someone's email or instant message account to send cruel or untrue messages while posing as that person.
    • Creating websites to make fun of another person such as a classmate or teacher.
    • Using websites to rate peers as prettiest, ugliest, etc.

    Both boys and girls sometimes bully online and just as in face-to-face bullying, tend to do so in different ways. Boys more commonly bully by sending messages of a sexual nature or by threatening to fight or hurt someone. Girls more often bully by spreading rumors, sending messages that make fun of someone, sharing secrets, or to exclude others.

     (2008). Cyberbullying. Retrieved July 16, 2008, from National Crime Prevention Council Web site: http://www.ncpc.org/topics/by-audience/parents/bullying/cyberbullying/

    The Effects of Cyberbullying 

    Victims of cyberbullying may experience many of the same effects as children who are bullied in person, such as a drop in grades, low self-esteem, a change in interests, or depression. However cyberbullying can seem more extreme to its victims because of several factors:

    • Occurs in children"s home. Being bullied at home can take away the place children feel most safe.
    • Can be harsher. Often kids say things online that they wouldn"t say in person, mainly because they can"t see the other person"s reaction. 
    • Far reaching. Kids can send emails making fun of someone to their entire class or school with a few clicks, or post them on a website for the whole world to see.
    • Anonymity. Cyberbullies often hide behind screen names and email addresses that don"t identify who they are. Not knowing who is responsible for bullying messages can add to a victim"s insecurity.
    • May seem inescapable. It may seem easy to get away from a cyberbully-just get offline-but for some kids not going online takes away one of the major places they socialize.

    Cyberbullying can be a complicated issue, especially for adults who are not as familiar with using the Internet, instant messenger, or chat rooms as kids. But like more typical forms of bullying, it can be prevented when kids know how to protect themselves and parents are available to help.

    (2008). Cyberbullying. Retrieved July 16, 2008, from National Crime Prevention Council Web site: http://www.ncpc.org/topics/by-audience/parents/bullying/cyberbullying/

    Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts(PDF) http://www.ncpc.org/topics/by-audience/parents/bullying/cyberbullying/cyberbullying.pdf

    Social Networking Websites

    You’ve probably heard the names – MySpace.com and Facebook.com. These are some of the top social networking websites that have become an online craze for teens and for many adults. You’ve probably also heard some stories about how pedophiles are surfing these pages for their next targets, or how teens are having their identities stolen after posting too much information online. The good news is that young people can protect themselves and their personal information easily, if they know how.

    Social networking websites may seem high-tech, especially to the non-tech savvy user, but they’re easy to use and to understand. They differ from traditional websites in that they allow users to interact with them and with other users. Many of the popular social networking websites let users create personal profiles, add photos, write in a public journal or blog, send messages to others, and invite people to become their online friend – all with just a few clicks of the mouse.

    None of this technology is inherently dangerous, and if it’s safely used it can be a great creative outlet for young people and a way to get them excited about technology. However, many young people are sharing too much information online and aren’t aware that anyone with an internet connection can view it - even pedophiles, employers, teachers, their school nemesis, and you. As a parent, you can teach your children how to safely use social networking websites and make sure that they do. Below are some ways that you can protect your children and their personal information online.

    Talk to your kids about the risks.

    • Explain that online information and images can live forever. It can be very hard and sometimes impossible to take down information that is posted, and photos and information may already have been copied and posted elsewhere.
    • Tell your children not to post any identifying information online. This includes their cell phone number, address, hometown, school name, and anything else that a stranger could use to locate them.
    • Explain that anyone in the world can access what they post online. Tell your children that some college admissions boards and employers are checking social networking sites before they admit students or hire people.
    • Remind your children never to give out their passwords to anyone but you – not even their friends. Explain that if someone has their password, they could post embarrassing and unsafe information about them on their personal pages and even pose as your children to talk to other people.
    • Make sure that children understand that some people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Explain that on the Internet many people are not truthful about their identity and may even pretend to be someone else. It’s important to stress that young people should never meet people face-to-face that they met online.

    Protect them from Dangers

    • Most social networking websites require that young people be at least 13-years old, and sometimes even 18, to create an account. Don’t let younger children pretend to be older to use these websites.
    • MySpace and some other social networking websites let users set their profiles to private so that only their friends – usually defined as people that know their full name or email address – can contact them. Make sure younger teens’ profiles are set to private.
    • Go online with your children and have them show you all of their personal profiles. Ask to see some of their friends’ profiles too. If they have a blog or share photos online, ask to see them too.
    • Treat your children’s online activities like you do their offline ones. Ask questions about what they do, who their friends are, and if they have made any new friends.
    • Set clear rules that you can all agree on regarding what your children are allowed to do online. Make sure you decide if your children are allowed to post photos of themselves and open accounts without your permission.

    How you can help them

    • Have your children tell you if they ever see anything online that makes them uncomfortable. Make sure they understand that you won’t blame them.
    • Ask them to come to you if anything happens online that hurts or scares them. Tell them that you won’t punish them by banning them from the internet – this is a big reason why many kids don’t talk to their parents about their online problems.
    • Report any cases of possible child sexual exploitation, no matter how small, to your local law enforcement.

    What’s a parent to do?

    Ask to see your kids’ social networking profile and page. Make sure it doesn’t include revealing personal information or pictures. You can also Google your child’s name and see what comes up. Remember, your child can easily create one “clean” profile for your eyes while maintaining a second, more personal MySpace page. That’s why the conversation about personal information and online safety is likely more important than your personal inspection of their accounts.

    (2008, June 28). Technology: the mistakes kids make. Retrieved July 15, 2008, from www.symantec.com Web site: http://www.symantec.com/norton/familyresources/resources.jsp?title=ar_mistakes_kids_make

    Research or Plagiarism?

    As anyone who has ever written a research report knows, it’s hard to put the findings of your research into your own words. It’s especially hard when Google™ or Wikipedia helps with the research and all you have to do is copy and paste your findings to make a report. And it’s more common than you think. For example, a high school biology teacher in Kansas failed 28 of 118 students for plagiarizing on a research assignment.

    What’s a Parent to Do?

    Teachers have access to Web sites that help them detect plagiarism. You don’t have to go that far. If you see something in your kids’ research reports that doesn’t sound like they wrote it, ask them about it. Also, a Google search on a suspect phrase, sentence, or paragraph will usually turn up the source of plagiarized text. Remind your children before they begin a paper or research project of the importance of turning in original work. Most schools have serious punishment such as suspension for anyone found to be plagiarizing their work.

    (2008, June 28). Technology: the mistakes kids make. Retrieved July 15, 2008, from www.symantec.com Web site: http://www.symantec.com/norton/familyresources/resources.jsp?title=ar_mistakes_kids_make

    Text Messaging

    Let’s start with cell phones and text messaging (or as kids call it “texting”). Many kids in 5th grade and beyond have their own cell phones. They text a lot and they text everywhere. They text in class under their desks and behind books. They text in bed at night. Teens even text while driving.

    • Texting while driving–Recently, as a teen was texting his girlfriend while driving, his car crossed the centerline and collided head on with a cement truck. He survived but suffered permanent injuries. A recent study by the Allstate Foundation found that almost 10 percent of teens don’t think that texting while driving is distracting and another 10 percent think it’s only "slightly distracting." Hmmm. If your teen has a cell phone and a car, perhaps a conversation is in order.
    • Texting in class–As any teacher can tell you, kids texting in class is a real problem, too. Obviously, it distracts them from learning and it can lead to other problems including cyber bullying, and passing test answers. A math junior high teacher recently noticed that almost half her class had given the same wrong answer to a test question. The answer had been disseminated in a text message.
    • Texting in the dark –Sometimes, the desire to text is greater than the desire to sleep. Kids have been known to text in bed after the lights go out. Usually all they lose is sleep, but sometimes they lose more. In one case, a teenage girl texting at night was lured into a sexual relationship with a 34-year-old internet predator, who is now under arrest.
    •  Texting inappropriate photos/videos – According to the Texas Penal Code 43.26 (e), a student who sends “visual material” that depicts “sexual conduct” of a child under the age of 18 has committed a felony of the 3rd degree.

    What’s a Parent to Do?

    If your kids have cell phones, you should know where, when, how often, and with whom they “text?” If asking them doesn’t answer those questions, your cell phone bill will. You can see with whom they text and when. If you don’t like what you see, consider curtailing their phone use and/or blocking inappropriate numbers.

    (2008, June 28). Technology: the mistakes kids make. Retrieved July 15, 2008, from www.symantec.com Web site: http://www.symantec.com/norton/familyresources/resources.jsp?title=ar_mistakes_kids_make 

    (2008). National Crime Prevention Council. Retrieved July 15, 2008, from School Safety Web site: http://www.ncpc.org/topics/by-audience/parents/school-safety