I registered my first Yahoo! eMail account in 1998. In the last in the last 13 years I have learned many thing's in regards to keeping myself safe on the Internet. Back then, being an adult, who's children were too young to use my computer, those *things* were more focused on, computer (hardware/software) safety. Making sure I take out a virus, before it destroyed my hard drive.
Of course that wasn't a priority of mine until after having a Hacker, guess my simple 7 character password (My daughter's name) ..and subsequent annihilation of every eMail, photo upload, and group I started.
THAT was just after the 9/11 attacks on New York. I know that for sure, because with help and research, we (Yahoo! admin's at the time, and a very unprepared F.B.I. department, assigned to Online safety, led me back to my stalker being the owner of a 9/11 vent group, I had joined.
The Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section, of the Department of Defense, had only been formed a mere 36 months earlier, and they were far too busy dealing with International issues, (as they should be)
Terms, that had yet to be coined: "kiddy porn," "Internet stalking:" "online predators" and "Anti-Piracy/Intellectual Property Rights"
NOW, I am a Mother of three. My oldest is almost 20, my youngest just turned 12.
We have come a long way since the days of BBS, 9600 baud Modems, and monochrome, screens..
And sadly, we all know there is ABSOLUTELY no way, to completely protect our children from the ugliness, hate, rage, and improper sexual advances, that can happen to our Teenagers.
... But the one most powerful thing we can do to arm our children against predators, is the gift of communication.
We must make sure our children feel comfortable to share with us what they read, and listen to while *enjoying* this amazing WorldWideWeb.
We MUST be first to explain there are people and images, out there, that will make us uncomfortable. And it's o.kay, to talk to us about that sort of stuff.
...That along with a couple basic steps, in regards to the Computer itself:
~ Keep it in a general location. (Not in their room) This will force our children to forgo some delusional belief that they have total control over the sites they surf, and the people they chat with.
~ Enforce a time limit. Which includes time spent researching homework. If we only allow our kids, to spend 3 hours online, and it takes them 2.5 hours to finish their History report, then they will be appreciative of the .5 hours they have left to be online with REAL friends.
~ Set parental controls to the point that the kid CAN NOT install software. That will give parents more control over the spy/ad ware installed on the computer, because the child wants to join some new R.P.G site.