Enough Is Enough believes that minor children
under the age of 17 are safest when they are not on social networking
sites or online gaming sites. Law enforcement will confirm that
it is difficult to protect kids on these sites because it is impossible
to detect disguised predators online. Additionally, these sites
contain inappropriate content, language and even some pornography.
Parents must decide whether the benefit outweighs the risk regarding
social networking sites. If parents choose to allow their minor
children on these sites, please follow our “Parent and Guardian
Rules ‘N Tools™:
Implement both safety rules and software tools to protect your
children online one without the other is ineffective.
- Teach your children to never give personal information
over the Internet, such as name, address, telephone number,
password, parents' names, the name of any club or team he/she
is involved in, name of his/her school, or after school job.
In January of 2005 in Lafayette, Louisiana, a 16-year-old
girl was attacked by a 37-year-old man who read her profile
on MySpace.com and tracked her down at her after-school job.
- Pay Attention to Online Photos: Know the type
of photos your child is posting online. It is wisest
to encourage your child not to post any photos online. Children
use various forms of technology to post information and photos
online, such as videos and web cams. Photos from camera phones
can also be uploaded. Parents should be aware of the imagery
their children post on the Web—these images most likely
pose a risk to their children, exposing them to online predators
and strangers. Even innocent photos can attract a predator.
Even innocent pictures of school activity on a school
Web site have attracted the attention of one predator who
became obsessed and kidnapped a child from his school (The
Decatur Daily News. 23 May 2006).
- Know your kids’ online activities and friends.
Regularly ask your kids about their online friends and activities.
Role-play with your child the various dangerous scenarios they
could encounter online.
Almost one in eight youth ages 8-18 discovered that someone
they were communicating with online was an adult pretending
to be much younger (Internet safety: Realistic Strategies &
Messages for Kids Taking More and More Risks Online. December
21, 2005. Polly Klaas Foundation. February 17, 2006 <http://www.pollyklaas.org/internet-safety/pkfsummary.pdf>).
- Instruct your child never to plan a face-to-face
One-third of youth ages 8-18 have talked about meeting
someone they have only met through the Internet (Polly Klaas
Foundation, December 21, 2005).
Supervise Computer Use: Keep your child’s
computer in an open area of your home and be aware of other
computers and other devices children may be using outside
of the home. Placing the computer in an area, such
as the kitchen or family room, gives parents the ability to
supervise a child’s online navigation. Pay attention
to other computer and Internet-enabled mobile devices children
30% of parents allow their teenagers to use the computer
in private areas of the house such as a bedroom or a home
office. Parents say they are more vigilant about where their
teen(s) go online if the computer is in a public area of the
household (NCMEC/ Cox5/24/05).
Keep the Lines of Communication Open: Use
the Internet with your child. Parents should be proactive
about their child’s online activities. Spend time alongside
your child and establish an atmosphere of trust. This provides
an opportunity for parents to engage in dialogue about websites
their children visit and programs they are using. Parents
should be open to learning about technology so they can keep
up with their children. Understanding how children use the
Internet will give parents a better idea of the risks they
65% of all parents and 64% of all teens say that teens
do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents
to know about (Pew Internet & American Life Project, March
Act Like the Child: Search blog sites children
visit to see what information they are posting. To
ensure that children are not engaging in risky online behavior,
we recommend that parents do a simple online search. Parents
can type in their child’s name, nickname, school, hobbies,
grade, or residence to determine information availability.
Supervise blogs -not only what your child is posting but what
other kids are posting about your child.
86% of the girls polled said they could chat online without
their parents’ knowledge, 57% could read their parents’
e-mail, and 54% could conduct a cyber relationship (Girl Scout
Research Institute, 2002).
Limit and monitor the amount of time your child
spends on the Internet, and at what times of
day. Excessive time online, especially at night, may indicate
a problem. Remind your child that Internet use is a privilege,
not a right.
23% of youth reported being “very” or “extremely
upset” by exposures to sexual material (Victimization
of Youths on the Internet, 2003).
Establish online rules and an agreement with your
child about Internet use at home and outside of the home (i.e.,
at a friend's house, at school, at the library, etc).
77% of parents do not have rules about what their kids
can do on the computer, such as restricting the amount of
time their kids spend on the computer (Kaiser Family Foundation
Study, March 2005).
Virtual Parenting: Set-up the family’s
Internet service accounts. Parents should take an
active role in setting up Internet service accounts, including
any online community services children may join. Parents should
regularly monitor accounts to supervise online friends, chat
areas and blogs. It is safest to block all chat rooms and
limit instant messaging to a parent-approved buddy list.
Approximately 89% of sexual solicitations of youth were
made in either chat rooms or through Instant Messaging (Pew
Study reported in JAMA, 2001).
- Monitoring Software: Install software to manage
where children go online. Monitoring software gives
parents the ability to view activity on the Internet and identify
their child’s online buddies. These programs give parents
a better understanding of what their child is doing online,
where they are going, and empowers parents to set online boundaries
for their children.
Over half (51%) of parents either do not have or do not
know if they have software on their computer(s) that monitors
where their teenager(s) go online and with whom they interact
- Exercise Parental Control: Implement Filtering
tools. Parental control tools are provided by some
Internet Service Providers (ISP) or are available for purchase
as separate software packages. These tools allow parents to
restrict websites a child can view from their home computer.
Settings are password-protected. Remember – no filter
is a substitute for parental supervision.
More than 11 million teens regularly view porn online
(The Washington Post, July 1, 2004).
Restrict Access: Use privacy settings to restrict
access to the child’s website. Social networking
sites provide a variety of privacy settings that limit who
can view the child’s website. By using these privacy
tools, parents may be able to approve which friends from school,
clubs, teams, and community groups are able to view a child’s
profile or blog, and block unknown individuals from accessing
a child’s information. On most social networking websites,
you can access and change your child’s privacy settings
by clicking on “account settings.” Remember that
no one can detect a disguised predator. Predators can still
penetrate ‘youth only’ spaces.
Authorities say teens are finding trouble in the social
networking environment where millions of people, can in seconds,
find out where they go to school, learn their interests, download
their pictures and instantly send them messages(Associated
Be a Technical Geek: Secure the family computer
by regularly updating the operating system and installing
a firewall, and up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
The instant a computer is connected to the Internet or an
“always on” broadband connection, hackers and
thieves can attempt to gain access to the family’s financial
and personal information. By securing your computer, you can
protect against these Internet intruders and the malicious
programs they can download onto your computer.