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Teen Author Tattletales on Peers: 10 Ways to Keep Your Tech Savvy Kids Safe Online This Summer While You’re at Work

Teen Author, Shalayne Alexandria, offers 10 steps to keep your kids and teens safe online while you are at work this summer

Seattle, WA, June 23, 2007 --( It’s summertime. That means no homework to check after you come home from work, no dragging your kids out of bed at six-thirty in the morning, no security of knowing how your kids are spending their days while you’re at work and they’re at school. Now, you might not be able to control their every move, but you can keep them safer on the internet by following a few, simple online safety guidelines:

1. Communicate with your kids. Even if you’ve gone over the basic internet safety rules before, go over them again. It’s summer. Your kids have a lot of idle time on their hands and they may be feeling adventurous. Perhaps even adventurous enough to forget that something is against the rules. While you’re at it, make sure they know that the rules you set down apply not only to internet usage in your home, but in the homes of friends and family as well. Get them to talk about their activities and the people they encounter on the internet. Be sure to ask them specific questions. For example: “Do you have a dual profile. One for me (the parent) and one for your friends online?” An open dialogue may reduce the need to spy on your own children.

2. When in doubt, spy anyway. Computer usage is a privilege, not a right. Maybe your kids are being upfront with you about what they’re doing online. By the same token, maybe they’re not. For the same reason a teenager may lie about parental supervision at a party, he/she may lie about what they do online: they know it’s against the rules or that you wouldn’t approve. There’s a very easy tool you can use to find out what your kids are doing online and (best of all) it’s free! It’s called the browser history. In Internet Explorer 7, it’s accessible in a few simple clicks. Simply click the star on the toolbar, select ‘History’, and pick the day. By default, it only displays the browser history for the previous two weeks, but that can be adjusted by going into Internet Explorer and clicking Internet Options in the tool menu. In the general tab, click ‘settings’ in the browser history section. Here, you can adjust how many days Internet Explorer saves the list of websites visited and (this is for all versions of IE) you can view an internet history that goes months back.

3. Keep the computer in a central area, even the portable laptop. Kids are more likely to censor themselves if they know Mom or Dad could walk in at any time.

4. Remind your kids not to give out any personally identifying information. Things they should never reveal include but are not limited to: their surname, the name of their school, their team name, their home address, and their favorite hangouts.

5. Advise your children not to upload or post any photos of themselves without your knowledge or approval.

6. Instruct your child not to make any purchases on the internet without your knowledge and approval, no matter what the cost or amount of money.

7. Tell your kids to trust their instincts. If a contact or encounter on the internet makes them feel uncomfortable, it is more than OK ignore the person or click away from the site entirely. Let them know they should tell you about it without fear of getting in trouble or having their computer privilege taken away.

8. Turn on your parental controls to filter the content your kids view on the internet. If you use Internet Explorer: Go to your internet options, select the ‘content’ tab and click ‘enable’ to open the content advisor and adjust the settings. Don’t forget to set up a supervisor password in the general tab of the content supervisor.

9. Sign an age appropriate computer user agreement or contract between you and your child specifying a code of conduct that he/she has to follow. If he or she breaks the agreement, they get whatever discipline you outlined in the agreement you both signed.

10. If all else fails, put a username and password on the computer so that they can’t get on the computer at all unless you let them on. Here’s how you can do this on your computer: Start Menu/My Computer>control panel>User Accounts>Change an Account>Select the account you want to change>Create a password.

The internet can be a source of information and entertainment for your child. Help your child have a fun, safe summer online.

(Note: While Internet Explorer is the browser referred to in this article, similar instructions are likely applicable in other web browsers as well. See your preferred web browser’s help document for more information.)

About The Author

Shalayne Alexandria is the teen author of the Nyville High book series & blog, co-creator of the ShiShiDiva fashion accessories line and media content consultant for fortune 500 companies interested in teen trends. Alexandria’s fiction book, Nyville High No. 1: Welcome to Nyville! features a cautionary storyline about internet safety for kids and teens. The book is available in paperback July 2007 . Please email for an interview or more information or call 425-306-6837.

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Shalayne Alexandria
Ronda Polhill

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