Additional Article

MAY 2007

Child Internet Safety: How to monitor online activity
by Jay Wagner, MS, CISA

I t seems that every time you turn on the news these days, you find yourself staring at yet another news story regarding a sexual assault against a child. This is becoming much more of an epidemic with the growth and widespread knowledge of the Internet.

It goes without saying that children can be exploited anytime they get out of the sight of their parents in public. Children can be safely in their home but be far out of “site” on the Internet—and surprisingly vulnerable to exploitation and harm.

The FBI’s “Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety,” www.fbi.gov/publications/pguide/pguidee.htm, lists some of the warning signs as to whether your child may be at risk. A few are: 

If your child spends a lot of time online, especially at night.
If you find pornography on the computer.
If your child receives phone calls from, or makes calls to, numbers you don’t recognize.
If your child receives mail or gifts from someone you don’t know.
If your child changes screens or turns off the monitor when you are nearby.

Tips for reducing your child’s vulnerability are listed in the FBI’s Guide
under the “Safeguarding Children” section of the Illinois Attorney General’s Web site, www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov
and on the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Web site, www.illinoisicac.org.
A few tips include:

Keep the computer in a high traffic area where the screen is visible. Most victims have access to the Internet in a private location (like their bedroom).
Set family rules for Internet use. Discuss the dangers of predators and explain people are often not who they say they are.
Use Internet blocking and monitoring, and review what is on the computer.
Do not allow online names, e-mail addresses and Web pages or profiles that give away personal information—and explain that even “harmless” information can make a child easy to find. (For example, how many kids named “Billy” wear the number 23 on their jersey and play right field for the Cubs in the town’s only little league?)
Monitor who your child calls and receives calls from.
  Restrict and monitor your child’s access to chat rooms, instant messages and e-mail. Predators almost always meet potential victims in chat rooms.

If you suspect your child is communicating with a predator, collect as much information as possible and talk with your child about your suspicions and the dangers of predators.

Incidents of online child exploitation can be reported by e-mail to the ICAC Task Force at: illinoisicactip@atg.state.il.us.
You may also contact local law enforcement or the FBI at www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm.

Additional information can be found at www.safekids.com, www.isafe.org and staysafe.org. The risks are too great to ignore.  If your child uses the Internet, don’t let him or her get out of “site.”

For more information:
Jay Wagner has more than 10 years experience in information technology.
He earned a Master of Science degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) in 2001 and is a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).