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Our suggestions to parents and children on how to surf safely

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E-mail, texting, social networks, chat rooms, instant messaging and online games: they are integral parts of the way young people communicate and socialize. However, the use of the Web varies depending on the age of the minor. The younger ones are increasingly more connected to and curious about the Internet, yet inexperienced. This means they see cyberspace just as a place for fun, games and social connections and not as a poorly controlled place where they can even unintentionally find unsuitable content for their age. The older kids are usually more aware than their parents and teachers of the opportunities offered by the web.

To protect young people, they must be taught to surf in a attentive and responsible manner, while maintaining great caution toward strangers “met” on the Internet and avoiding communicating their own or other's personal information.

For this reason, parents and teachers must teach them to recognize suspicious behaviour that may lurk on the Net, in addition to encouraging children and young people to be considerate and respectful towards others.

Advice to parents

  • Get to know first-hand the tools offered by the web so you can guide your children in choosing content and sites that are most appropriate to their age and needs. Speak to them openly, without frightening them, and explain why some sites may be unsuitable or inappropriate.
  • Teach your children to never give out personal information (ex. name, address, telephone number) or bank details and, in general, to never fill in forms online or make online purchases without your permission or your supervision.
  • Explain the importance of not responding to messages received from strangers and immediately stop conversations that make them feel annoyed or uneasy.
  • Establish open communication with your children, asking to be informed on their activities on the Net, their friends and virtual contacts. Define the navigation paths together and establish the appropriate amount of time to spend on the Net.
  • Stay by their side while they surf on the net. Especially for the younger ones, it is preferable to periodically check the Internet addresses visited most frequently.
  • Ensure your home computer has adequate security software (antivirus, antispyware, antispam, identity protection systems).
  • Set features to control access to interactive services such as newsgroups, chat rooms, forums , instant messaging, bulletin boards, where children could start conversations on inappropriate topics with strangers.
  • Do not allow the use of P2P programs (peer to peer) for file sharing. Children could illegally download music, films, videos, or even possess and/or distribute child pornography material unknowingly. Often, the content found does not match the search and can hide viruses or malicious programs.
  • Place the family computer in a common area of passage where you can have visibility of the computer and more easily control the online activities of your children.
  • Check the video games purchased for your children and the online games that they download from the Internet. Check that they do not have violent or sexual content or that is otherwise unsuitable for the age recommended.

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Advice to children and teenagers

  • Never give your personal information such as your name, address, phone number, age, names of your family members and your school references.
  • Do not make purchases online without the permission or supervision of your parents.
  • Do not participate in online contests and do not fill in forms on the Web. Some of these initiatives hide dangerous scams. Be careful not to insert your personal data and information as it may be “stolen” and used for illegal purposes.
  • Be respectful to your friends even when you are online. Never use vulgar or abusive language. The rules of good manners also apply in the virtual world.
  • Do not reply to those you do not know and do not open e-mail advertising attachments. These messages may hide software that is dangerous and harmful for your PC or images that are unsuitable for you.
  • Do not share your personal password with your friends. Your data is confidential and belongs only to you.
  • Do not agree to meet someone you met on the Net. On the web it is easy to hide your identity and pretend to be someone you are not. Learn to be wary and to always inform your parents if someone has asked you to meet or send information or photos.
  • If someone has offended you or used foul language towards you, immediately inform your parents. They will explain that it is not your fault and they will teach you to react and defend yourself against such incidents.
  • Immediately interrupt a conversation that makes you feel embarrassed or uneasy and immediately inform your parents of what happened.
  • Do not download programs from the Internet without having asked your parents for permission first. What you find does not always correspond to what you are searching. You may inadvertently download malicious programs, prohibited to minors or covered by copyright.