How can you keep the internet safe for your kids?

The Internet can offer children a wealth of useful information and lots of fun, but it also often contains material that is either unsuitable or illegal for them to access. Here are a few simple tips and resources you can use to make sure their internet browsing experiences are safer.

General tips for parents

One way to help your children have a positive online experience is to educate them about the risks associated with browsing the web. Then, you should supervise your children online as much as possible. You can do this and encourage family involvement by having the computer in a public area of the home.

Some other guidelines that could help protect your children online include:

  • Not giving out personal information to anyone online, including giving out their email address or any passwords.
  • Involving you when they want to meet anyone who they have only met online.
  • Not filling in forms or agreeing to any contracts, agreements or downloads of any kind without your involvement.
  • Not opening emails from addresses they don't recognise. By responding, the email address will be verified to the sender as a valid email address and this can lead to further unsolicited emails being sent.
Dealing with spam

Spam is online junk mail. It can include chain letters, emails about get-rich-quick schemes and links to pornographic or other offensive content. Spammers find email address in a number of ways including trawling internet newsgroups, chat rooms and other unsecured online registrations.

We're committed to reducing the amount of spam that circulates on our network. For more information about what we're doing to eliminate spam and how you can help reduce the amount you receive, visit Fighting Spam in the BigPond Help Centre. You're also able to find out how you can report and complain about spam you receive.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have registered a Spam Code of Practice which all Australian ISPs must comply with. For more information or a full copy of the code, see the Internet Industry Association (IIA) Spam Code of Practice.

Practicing safety in newsgroups and chat rooms

Newsgroups are like online noticeboards, where you can post, read and exchange messages about a particular topic of interest. Chat rooms let people communicate across borders and time zones about a wide range of topics. Chat is real-time text-based communication across the Internet.

Both newsgroups and chat rooms can involve communicating with total strangers. So children should be educated about appropriate behaviour in these environments, and especially about the dangers of providing personal information.

Take further steps with internet Content filtering software

Software is available to complement parental supervision of children' online time. Internet content filters can automatically block access to unsuitable websites, chat rooms and newsgroups, as well as particular search engine results.

Filters can block access to websites based on a list of banned sites (black list) or on a list of acceptable websites (white lists). They can operate on your home computer or through your ISP. Some filters can even help control the time your child spends online.

But it's important to remember that filters will never be foolproof, and are no substitute for parental supervision.

Different filters may also categorise websites differently. Unlike film and video classifications, there are no set standards and the classifications may not reflect Australian cultural values.

All ISPs in Australia are required to provide an Internet Content filter approved by the ACMA and listed on the Internet Industry Association's Code of Practice. For more information on the range of Internet Content filter solutions available see http://www.iia.net.au/codes.html.

You can use your web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape) to limit Internet access, and filtering software is available from provider's websites, computer shops and department stores.

As a BigPond Member, you can purchase BigPond Security (includes a content filter and parental controls), including a 2 month free trial. Visit BigPond Security for more details.

 

How to make a complaint to ACMA

ACMA has set up an Online Hotline to address community concerns about Internet content. ACMA investigates complaints about internet content. If the content is found to be prohibited, will take steps to have it removed or access-filtered.

If you'd like to know more, or you want to access the online hotline complaints form, visit http://www.acma.gov.au.

Simple rules to teach the kids

The ACMA's Rules for Kids can be used to help educate children about what to do and what not to do online. You can find these rules at cyber smart page which is a government site you can visit (with your kids)

The following links provide further information on safe surfing for children.

Get Net Safe Business Users

The Internet Industry Association has developed a website to help all users with internet security, at http://www.security.iia.net.au/. The information is particularly valuable for small to medium sized enterprises.