- The first computer safety lesson involves not giving out personal information to web sites or individuals online. Most kids would not find it unusual, especially if they think they are communicating with a peer online, to divulge their full name, their birthday, where they go to school, where they live, if they are going with friends to the mall, the names of their siblings and pets, even where they go to church or whether their parents work days or nights.
Safe and Unsafe Websites
- Another important computer safety lesson must stress appropriate websites and their opposites. This can be tricky. Even a website such as eBay, which should be safe for general searching, could quickly become unsafe if there are books, movies, or products young people should not be seeing. Anything that contains bad language, questionable images or something suspicious should be brought to the attention of an adult. Computer safety lessons should contain reassurances to children that they will not get in trouble if they bring an unsafe website to an adult's attention.
- A good safety lesson about chat rooms involves thinking of them as going to a masquerade party, where everyone is wearing masks. No one is showing his true identity and no one has told you how to recognize her mask, so anyone could be safe or unsafe. Children should not reveal their real identities, either, nor should they use their city, street or school in their screen names.
- Teach these lessons in "big block letters": Don't store passwords anywhere on the Internet, and don't type your password unless you are signing into a site that you know and trust. Don't open files attached to emails from unknown sources. Don't post a photo or send a picture of yourself to someone's cell phone or email. Don't describe yourself to someone so that you could be recognized. Don't describe any vehicles in your family or tell the route you take by walking or biking home from school. Above all, do not make a plan to meet alone with someone you "met" on the Internet. Take a parent with you. Carry a whistle to blow if anyone tries to get you into a vehicle or any situation against your will.