Internet Safety for Children and Teens

Our office came across a great brochure discussing Internet safety for children and teenagers. In today’s society, we feel that this is an important issue, and we wanted to share with you the contents of that brochure. The brochure was distributed by the “South Carolina Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force” from the Office of the Attorney General, State of South Carolina. Go here to read more or call (803) 734-3970.

The South Carolina Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force is part of a national network of 61 regional Task Forces funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In South Carolina, the Task Force operates through the Office of the Attorney General and works closely with over 55 affiliate members – law enforcement agencies across South Carolina, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The ICAC Task Force investigates and prosecutes Internet crimes against children, provides statewide training to law enforcement and prosecutors in various practical investigative and forensic areas, and provides Internet safety awareness presentations and resources on Internet safety for children and teens.

What are some safety tips for children and teens?

I – Information about you is private (name, age, sex, address, etc.), and should not be put on the Internet.
N –
Never give your passwords to anyone except your parents – even to your best friends.
T – 
Talk with your parents about activities you enjoy on the Internet and the guidelines they have for your use of the Internet.
E –
Exchange emails, instant messages, text messages, etc. only with your family and friends who know you in real life.
R –
Respect yourself and others in all that you do on the Internet.
N –
Never agree to meet in person with someone that you first met on the Internet.
E –
Exclude inappropriate photos from your posts.
Tell your parents about anything on the Internet that makes you feel scared or uncomfortable.

Why is there a need for Internet safety information for children and teens?
With the ongoing introduction of new technologies and the increase in use of these technologies by younger populations, the Internet poses some risks.

What are some of the risks that my child or teen may encounter on the Internet?
-Bullying and harassment
-Exposure to inappropriate content
-Sexual solicitation

Should parents eliminate their child’s and teen’s use of the Internet to keep them safe?
NO. There are many positive aspects of the Internet, and many beneficial uses.
The Internet gives us:
-ways for family members to interact together
-educational games and programs
-the ability to research topics
-help with homework
-encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials
-connections with places around the world and information about other cultures
-the ability to improve our technology skills

What can a parent do to minimize the online risks for their children and teens?
-Most importantly, apply your parenting wisdom. Nothing is more effective than parent knowledge and supervision.
-Know their passwords and preview their profiles and pictures before they are posted.
-Pace the computer in a common area of the home, not in bedrooms.
-Communicate with your child and teen about their Internet use and have guidelines in place for their Internet activities.
-Some families use an Internet Safety Contract with their children and teens.
-Know who your child and teen are communicating with through emails, texting, chat rooms, social networking sites, etc.
-Be aware that the Internet can be accessed through cell phones and gaming devices.
-Some families choose to use filtering software that restricts access to inappropriate sites. Some families use monitoring software that enables the parent to know what your child or teen is doing online.

A Sampling of Internet Chat Lingo:
143 –
I love you
PAW – Parents are watching
IWALU- I will always love you
BFF – Best friends forever
ASL – age, sex, location
ALAP – as late as possible
F2F – face to face
WTGP – Want to go private?
KPC – keeping parents clueless
MorF – Male or female?
POS  – Parents over shoulder
P911 – Parent alert
RU/18 – Are you over 18?
BF – Boyfriend
FOMCL – Falling off my chair laughing
LMIRL – Let’s meet in real life.
KOL – Kiss on lips
LTR – Long term relationship
MUSM – Miss you so much
SN – Screen name
TAW – Teachers are watching

Additional Resources:
1. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) -Helps prevent child abduction and child sexual exploitation; helps find missing children; assists victims of child abduction and child sexual exploitation.

2. CyberTipline (1-800-843-5678)- The 911 of the Internet. Use this service to report the sexual exploitation of children both on and offline. Information is forwarded to local law enforcement agencies.

3. NetSmartz and NetSmartz411 – Resource for Internet safety information and programs.

If you have immediate safety concerns, please contact your local law enforcement agency.

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