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Cybersafe Girls

What's Out There The Internet is a fun and effective teaching tool for children, but it has its dangers. . . .

What's Out There

The Internet is a fun and effective teaching tool for children, but it has its dangers. Pornographic images are widespread. Some websites with adult content choose web addresses similar to commonly used websites or have pop-up ads that appear during basic searches or at popular websites. Moreover, there are websites on practically every topic, including ones that glorify violence, racism, drug use, and eating disorders. Chat rooms can be a fun place for children to talk to their friends and make new ones. However it's easy for anyone to access chat rooms, even secure ones, and add to the conversation. And, although not as common as once thought, there is the danger of adults luring children to meet them with the intent of harming the child.

It's Usually Not Them

Most girls don't go looking for inappropriate material and conversations online. They use the Internet primarily to read up on their interests, research school assignments, play games, send and receive email, chat, and instant message with friends, but while online, children must be careful. In 2002, the Girl Scout Research Institute found that 30 percent of teenage girls polled had been sexually harassed in a chat room. Only 7 percent had told their parents about it.

What You Can Do

Parents can help girls stay safe on the Internet by teaching them to look out for possible dangerous situations and how to protect themselves online. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Go online with girls and help them find fun websites and chat rooms to visit. Share this website and other fun and safe sites with girls.
  • Make sure children know to NEVER give out personal information online, not even their name or age. Teach them to NEVER meet up with anyone who they have only met online.
  • Ask girls what their classmates do online. Let them know they should tell you or another adult if they are bullied online through chat, email, or instant messages or know of it happening to someone else. Encourage them not to participate.
  • Talk to girls about what they find and learn online. Ask what their favorite websites and chat rooms are, who they email and chat with, and what else they like to do online. Make sure they know they can talk to you or another adult if anything they see online makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Make children feel comfortable talking to you about things they see online. If children see inappropriate material online, don't blame them.
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