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Internet Family Fun

Your Child Getting Into Trouble Online

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Internet Family Fun Home > Internet Safety > Parents are Responsible for Their Child's Actions Online

Parents are Responsible for Their Child's Actions Online

"Don't You Ever Ask Them Why.." may not be a good idea in the online world. You are responsible for their actions while they are online. Someone can contact you if they have been doing things illegal or even just by breaking the User Agreements on Web sites. You may be thinking, "My kid isn't a hacker that breaks into government computers, so I don't have to worry." True, you or your child may not be doing anything illegal but you can lose Internet Service Provider privileges for spamming, being rude or transmitting copyright protected information.

How Do I Know What The Rules Are?
If you are online you have entered into a user agreement with your Internet Service Provider. Almost no one really reads these long boring legal documents, so you are not alone if you don't realize this. Also, just by using most Web sites you also have entered into a user agreement. These user agreements are where you or your children agree to rules. A common part of Web site's User Agreements or Terms of Use says, "You will not: Publish, post, upload, distribute or disseminate any inappropriate, profane, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent or unlawful topic, name, material or information." Another words, if your child goes into a chat room and uses profanity, they have broken a user agreement. Basically, it is the equivalent of your child going into the bathroom stall and writing on the walls - something you don't want your child to do, but they still do it. The only difference is, when they do it online, they leave identifying information that they did it.

How Would They Find Out It Came From My Computer?
It is very simple to track someone down on the Internet. There basically is no such thing as anonymity. Each time you log onto your Internet service provider, you are assigned an IP (Internet Protocol) number. This number is unique to all the other IP numbers of users using the Internet. When you visit a Web site, the IP number is logged and the time you were there. If something happens that warrants action, the Web site owner can track this number to the Internet service provider and lodge a complaint. All the Internet service provider has to do is look up the account that was using that IP number at that time. Ringgggg.. "Hello Mrs. Smith, we just got a complaint that profanity was posted at the aaa Website which violated their user agreement and ours. We show that this was posted from someone using your account."

If My Child Broke The Rules, What Could Happen?
What comes next may be a simple warning or being dropped by the Internet service provider, depending on the nature of the offense. If it was serious enough and the police were involved it may be a different story. Most of the time, profanity isn't reported, but that doesn't mean that it can't happen. Imagine having to change email addresses and explaining to everyone why. Also it is rumored that Internet service providers keep blacklists of problem users, so it may be hard to get another account in your name.

So What Should I Do To Make Sure My Child Doesn't End Up In Trouble?
Often children feel they are anonymous on the Internet, so they will try out swearing or acting like someone else because they think they can get away with it. It is critical to take the time to talk to your children about netiquette. Netiquette is basically the same rules of behavior they use at school. Installing filtering software can also be a good idea, but it usually filters what comes into your computer, not out. Monitoring your children online and communicating with them is the most important thing you can do. You can install monitoring software to monitor what they are doing. This is not only for your protection but also for their protection against predators. It is also important to lay out the rules and agree to them. Sit down with your child and talk about the rules and sign a user agreement with your kids.

Website and Internet Service Provider User Agreements

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