Top Tips for Parents

  • Keep your computer in a central and open location in your home and be aware of other computers your child may be using.  Discuss and set guidelines/rules for use with your children. Post these rules by the computer as a reminder.
  • Use the Internet with your children. Familiarize yourself with your children’s online activities and maintain a dialogue with your child about what applications they are using.
  • Implement parental control tools that are provided by some ISPs and available for purchase as separate software packages. Remember – No program is a substitute for parental supervision. Also, you may be able to set some parental controls within your browser. Internet Explorer allows you to restrict or allow certain web sites to be viewed on your computer, and you can protect these settings with a password. To find those options, click Tools on your menu bar, select Internet Options, choose the Content tab, and click the Enable button under Content Advisor.
  • Consider software that allows you to monitor your children’s email and web traffic.
  • Consider partitioning your computer into separate accounts – Most operating systems (including Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux) give you the option of creating a different user account for each user. If you’re worried that your child may accidentally access, modify, and/or delete your files, you can give him/her a separate account and decrease the amount of access and number of privileges he/she has.
  • Know who your children’s online friends are and supervise their chat areas.
  • Teach your children never to give out personal information to people they meet online such as in chat rooms or bulletin boards.
  • Know who to contact if you believe your child is in danger. Visit www.getnetwise.org for detailed information. If you know of a child in immediate risk or danger, call law enforcement immediately. Please report instances of online child exploitation to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children’s Cyber Tipline. Even though children may have better technical skills, don’t be intimidated by their knowledge. Children still need advice, guidance, and protection. Keep the lines of communication open and let your child know that you can be approached with any questions they may have about behaviors or problems encountered on the computer.

Internet Safety and Security Tips for Parents

While their age helps youth easily adapt to new technologies, their immaturity also makes them more likely to unintentionally engage in risky behaviors or be targeted by other users, more often peers than strangers. For many young people, there is little divide between their “real world” and online selves. As a parent, consider doing the following:

  • Remain positively engaged. Pay attention to and know the online environments your children use. Appreciate your children’s participation in their online communities and show interest in their friends. Try to react constructively when they encounter inappropriate material. Make it a teachable moment.
  • Support their good choices. Expand your children’s online experience and their autonomy when developmentally appropriate, as they demonstrate competence in safe and secure online behavior and good decision making.
  • Protect your hardware. Safety and security start with protecting all family computers. Install a security suite (antivirus, antispyware, and a firewall) that is set to update automatically. Keep your operating system, Web browser, and other software current as well, and back up computer files on a regular basis.
  • Know the protection features of the Web sites and software your children use. Your Internet service provider (ISP) may have tools to help you manage young children’s online experience (e.g., selecting approved Web sites, monitoring the amount of time they spend online, or limiting the people who can contact them) and may have other security features, such as pop-up blockers. Third-party tools are also available. But remember that your home isn’t the only place they can go online.
  • Review the privacy settings of social networking sites, cell phones, and other social tools your children use. Decide together which settings provide the appropriate amount of protection for each child.
  • Teach critical thinking. Help your children identify safe, credible Web sites and other digital content, and be cautious about clicking on, downloading, posting, and uploading content.
  • Explain the implications. Help your children understand the public nature of the Internet and its risks as well as its benefits. Be sure they know that any digital info they share, such as emails, photos, or videos, can easily be copied and pasted elsewhere, and is almost impossible to take back. Things that could damage their reputation, friendships, or future prospects should not be shared electronically.
  • Help them be good digital citizens. Remind your children to be good “digital friends” by respecting personal information of friends and family and not sharing anything about others that is potentially embarrassing or hurtful.
  • Just saying “no” rarely works. Teach your children how to interact safely with people they “meet” online. Though it’s preferable they make no in-person contact with online-only acquaintances, young people may not always follow this rule. So talk about maximizing safe conditions: meeting only in well-lit public places, always taking at least one friend, and telling a trusted adult about any plans they make – including the time, place, and acquaintance’s contact information (at least a name and cell phone number). Remind them to limit sharing personal information with new friends.
  • Empower your children to handle problems, such as bullying, unwanted contact, or hurtful comments. Work with them on strategies for when problems arise, such as talking to a trusted adult, not retaliating, calmly talking with the person, blocking the person, or filing a complaint. Agree on steps to take if the strategy fails.
  • Encourage your children to be “digital leaders.” Help ensure they master the safety and security techniques of all technology they use. Support their positive and safe engagement in online communities. Encourage them to help others accomplish their goals. Urge them to help if friends are making poor choices or being harmed.

Gaming Tips for Parents

  • Before your kids start playing, be sure your computer has an activated security suite: a firewall, anti-spyware software, and anti-virus software.
  • Be sure your kids have strong passwords for their gaming accounts. Passwords should be at least eight characters long and contain letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Let your kids know they can come to you if they feel http://www.staysafeonline.org/playing a game.
  • Participate in the game with your kids.
  • Make sure your kid knows how to block and/or report a cyberbully. Tell them to keep a record of the conversation if they are being harassed and encourage them not to engage the bully.
  • Make sure your child’s user name does not give away their name, location, gender, age, or any other personal information. (Examples: beach01, book2).
  • Make sure your kids use an avatar, not an actual picture of themselves.
  • If your kids are playing a game that features live voice chat, make sure they are disguising their voice. If the game does not have this feature, do not let them use voice chat.
  • Limit their time playing games.
  • Make sure you read and understand the ratings for the games that your children are playing.
  • Some game sites have multiple games with different ratings, so check all of them.
  • Keep the computer out in the open so that you can monitor your kids’ online activities.
  • Make sure your kids know that they may not send out any materials to fellow gamers that contain private information and/or data.
  • Use built-in parental controls on your Web browser.
  • Don’t let your children download anything without your express permission. This includes cheat programs that may claim to help your child perform better in the game, but really could be carrying malware.
  • Remember that prohibition won’t work. Your children will use computers and games consoles, even if it’s at school or at friends’ houses. If you talk to your kids about risks and good judgement, they will be able to get a lot more out of the web.

Gaming Tips for Kids

  • Before you start playing, be sure your computer has an activated security suite: a firewall, anti-spyware software, and anti-virus software.
  • Use a strong password for your gaming accounts. Be sure your password has at least eight characters and uses numbers, letters, and symbols.
  • If another player is making you feel uncomfortable, tell a trusted adult. Remember that you can always kick a player out of the game if they are making you uncomfortable.
  • Learn how to block and/or report another player if they are making you uncomfortable. Keep a record of what the other player said, but do not engage them.
  • Never reveal your real name, location, gender, age, or any other personal information. Keep your user name vague.
  • Use an avatar rather than an actual picture of yourself.
  • Do not present yourself as dating material.
  • Do not use a web-cam while playing an online game.
  • Do not accept downloads from strangers. This includes cheat programs that may claim to help you perform better in a game, but really could be carrying malware.
  • Do not send out materials to fellow gamers that contains personal information and/or data.
  • Do not meet a stranger from your gaming world in person. People are not always who they say they are.

Social Networking

  • Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
  • Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research (http://www.microsoft.com/privacy/dpd/research.aspx) found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
  • Your online reputation can be a good thing: Recent research (http://www.microsoft.com/privacy/dpd/research.aspx) also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.
  • Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
  • Protect your hardware: Safety and security start with protecting computers. Install a security suite (antivirus, antispyware, and firewall) that is set to update automatically. Keep your operating system, Web browser, and other software current as well and back up computer files on a regular basis.
  • Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know trust) more synched up with your daily life.
  • Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences. Post only about others as you would have them post about you.
  • Now what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.
  • Use strong passwords: Make sure that your password is long, complex and combines, letters, numerals, and symbols. Ideally, you should use a different password for every online account you have. If you need to write down your password to remember it, store it somewhere away from your computer.
  • Be cautious about messages you receive on social networking sites that contain links. Even links that look they come from friends can sometimes contain malware or be part of a phishing attack (attempts to collect personal information: logon and password and other indentifying information by pretending to be a message form a friend or a business). If you are suspicious, don’t click contact your friend or the business directly to verify the validity.

Mobile Tips

  • Only give your mobile number out to people you know and trust. Do not use your mobile phone to communicate with strangers. Only text and call people or businesses you know in real life.
  • Never reply to text messages from people you don’t know.
  • Make sure you know how to block others from calling your phone. Using caller id you can block all incoming calls or block individual names and numbers.
  • Make a record of your Electronic Serial Number (ESN) and/or your International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. You can find out your IMEI number by pressing *#06# on your mobile phone’s keypad, it will display a 15 digit number – that is your IMEI number.
  • If your phone is lost or stolen, report it to your local police station and your network operator immediately.
  • Think about how a text message might be read before you send it.
  • You should never give anyone else’s number out without asking them if it is okay.
  • You should never take pictures or videos of anyone with your phone if you do not have their permission.
  • Do not allow others to take pictures or videos of you without your permission. Remember – these pictures and videos can be posted to the Internet.
  • Be careful if you meet someone in real life who you only “know” through text messaging. Even though text messaging is often the “next step” after online chatting, that does not mean that it is safer.

Welcome

Welcome

The Washtenaw Cyber Citizenship Coalition (WC4) has created this site to help you sift through all the information, educational material and events related to Internet Safety.  WC4 is NOT producing any new materials.  We are following the lead of the National Initiative for Cyber Education (NICE) and “sharing the wheel”.

WC4 is working in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance, Department of Homeland Security “Stop.Think.Connect.” Campaign and other local, state and federal public and private partners to create a more cyber secure community.

Who We Are

Founded in 2009, the Cyber Citizenship Coalition’s mission is to raise awareness and provide county residents with the tools and resources to be good cyber citizens. Coalition members come from local, state and federal agencies involved in keeping residents and businesses safe online. We are a committee of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office led by Washtenaw County Commissioner Kristin Judge.

October kicks off the second annual national Cyber Security Awareness Month. We are working in conjunction with the National Initiative for Cyber Education (NICE). Our coalition is being used as a model by the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Our Mission

The Washtenaw County Cyber Citizenship Coalition empowers community members through awareness and education to use the Internet and related technology safely and securely.

Our Vision

To create a digitally aware, knowledgeable and more secure community.