1. Be aware and involved. It's up to us to teach kids how to use the Internet — and all media — safely and responsibly. Just as we teach them how to eat properly and drive safely, we must teach them how to be safe, responsible and respectful on the Internet.
2. Do your homework. Check out sites, investigate ratings, explore safety and privacy tools, and parental control features. Don't be intimidated by the Internet.
3. Talk to your kids. Ask them questions about where they're going online and who their buddies are.
4. Teach safety. Make sure your kids know how to avoid dangers. No party postings, no personal information, no meeting strangers — ever.
5. Set rules. Time limits, place limits, codes of conduct. Try to keep computers with Internet access in a central room in your house if younger kids are online.
6. Report suspicious activity to your Internet service provider or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-843-5678).
7. Help kids view online information with a critical eye. Not everything that appears on the Web is true. Teach them to be savvy consumers of Internet information.
8. View your own online habits with a critical eye. Our kids watch everything we do. If you don't want your kid doing what you're doing online you might want to think twice about your own habits.
9. Embrace their world. Download music, IM your kids, play an online game, visit Facebook. Not only will your kids appreciate it, you'll know what you're dealing with!
Remember, the Internet is here to stay. It's our job to help our kids be Internet safe and Internet smart.
Visit www.commonsensemedia.org for more information.
Common Sense Media is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping parents make informed media and entertainment choices for their families.
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