As a parent, it’s up to you to monitor your child’s computer activity. Cyber crime is a very real threat to everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, location or economic status. Children today are more likely to commit cyber crimes thanks, in part, to the feeling of anonymity that the Internet provides. Whether your child is the criminal or the victim, it’s important that you understand what is considered illegal online:
Cyber bullying is quickly becoming a very real problem among school-aged children. Children are called names, made fun of and threatened on social media sites and blogs every day. If you permit your child to have a social media page, be sure that you set ground rules. You should be included in their friends list, you should know their password and have access to their page at any time. Your child may view this as a violation of privacy, but it’s the best way to ensure that they aren’t being bullied or bullying others.
Downloading copy-written media is against the law and is punishable by stiff fines and incarceration. When your children download songs, movies, books and other forms of digital media, make sure that you know the sites they are using to download from. Also be sure that the material that your child is downloading is not copy-written. For example, if your child downloads a movie that is currently in theaters, there is very little chance that they’ve copied the movie legally.
Like cyber bullying, cyber harassment is a problem among children. Once emails and instant messages become harassing or threatening, they are considered to be in violation of the law. Keep an eye on your child’s email account and never leave them unsupervised when they are using an instant messaging service. You don’t have to hover over your child’s shoulder, but you should be in a position to occasionally check out what’s being said.
It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to view pornography on the Internet. You should know that it is incredibly easy for your child to click through the warning pages and watch as many pornographic movies as he or she likes. Make a rule that your child is not permitted to delete their browsing history and be sure to check the history before you shut down the computer for the day. Establish clear consequences if your child is caught looking at pornography and follow through with them.
Hacking into a web site is illegal and, unfortunately, quite popular. Many kids hack into web sites simply to prove to their friends that they can. These children often have no ill intent and don’t understand why what they’ve done is against the law. Hacking, like downloading copy-written material, is highly illegal. Your child can be subject to fines and incarceration if caught. If you don’t know how to recognize whether or not your child is hacking into websites, do some research into the subject online.
Before you allow your child to sign onto the computer, you should discuss the illegal activities listed above. Make sure that you set up ground-rules and boundaries when it comes to your child’s computer use, and make sure that you follow through with any consequences that you set. If you properly supervise your child’s online activities, they will be less likely to fall victim to crime or become criminals themselves.
Winny Lewis is a full-time writer for higher ed blogs and journals nationwide with a focus on online education opportunities. Several schools offer online masters in criminal justice, including online.ccj.pdx.edu and wou.edu.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their children to avoid cyber crime.
Image courtesy of marsmet526 via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.