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Responsible Internet Use: A Guide for Parents

Version from 14 March 2013


INSTALL the computer in a collective living space in the home so as not to leave a child alone with free reign over the use of the computer. The Internet will thus be a tool for the family and your child will be aware of your presence.

LET your child show you how they surf the Internet: their Internet habits, their favourite websites and those that could be of particular interest to them.

ENGAGE in an ongoing dialogue with your child about their use of the Internet and sites visited.

ENCOURAGE your child to alert you immediately when they see something on the Internet that is unusual, embarrassing or shocking.

INFORM your child of the risks associated with divulging personal information over the Internet (name, address, phone numbers, etc.) to prevent them from being exploited by malicious people or simply used for abusive commercial purposes.

INDICATE clearly to your child that breaching copyright is illegal and hence punishable (free download of music, games, movies, software).

TEACH your child to be cautious on the Internet:

  • Never disclose personal information;
  • Never respond to a shocking message and quickly leave a site if it makes them feel uncomfortable;
  • Never organise an appointment with someone they have met online.

BE a responsible parent, particularly in respect to young people. There are technical tools, such as filtering software, which can restrict Internet access according to the user profile or block access to certain sites by referencing keywords.

Three kinds of filtering tools are available:

  • The web browser can be configured to block access to certain sites. For example, “Internet Explorer” is configurable to prevent access to pornographic or violent sites, or those containing specific words, by using a checkbox system.
  • Browser independent software that is installed on the microcomputer will function as soon as the Internet is activated. This type of software acts as a filter and blocks access to certain, clearly defined sites. This is the case notably for systems used by Netnanny, Cyberpatrol, InternetWatcher 2000, Internet Security 2001 and Edunet.
  • Certain systems do not filter, but alternatively record in a log file protected by a password, the list of sites that have been visited. They act as “cookies”.

However, these systems have limitations. Although filtering software is undoubtedly highly recommended, commitment and education on behalf of parents remains essential and indispensable.

For more information about filtering, particularly with a view to protecting minors, Wengo suggests that you consult the following site: http://ceop.police.uk/

Taking a family-led approach will allow you to comprehensively address what is possible, desirable or prohibited during an Internet session. Allow your child to suggest the rules and make sure that you can enforce them. The charter can be guided by the advice given here and can include, for example: the duration and frequency of Internet use as well as a possible weekday or weekend schedule to abide by; type of sites authorised, tolerated or forbidden; usage in the absence of parents, information exchanged and the right to privacy; compromising with other activities (homework, sports, family meals…).

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