Mentors in the Community

At Microsoft Services, we are not just about work. We take great pride in our efforts to reach out and help the general community. In this post, two of our PFEs – Mike Rosado and Randolph Reyes – give you some vital tips to safeguard your kids when they are online! At the end of this post they also share contact information for schools interested to learn further.

The Internet, a powerful resource

The Internet is a powerful resource for our youth, because it’s a tool that enhances our children’s education when used properly. But it also presents opportunities for those who would attempt to do them harm.

According to the FBI, in recent studies show that one in seven youngsters has experienced unwanted sexual solicitations online. One in three has been exposed to unwanted sexual material online. One in 11 has been harassed or bullied online.

And as we all know, these are only some of the dangers that our kids face while surfing the Internet. How can we simultaneously protect them from these threats and enable them to take advantage of the positive things the web has to offer? This is why we are here, to help educate parents and children about the Internet.

Children and safety on the Internet

What unique risks are associated with children?

When a child is using your computer, normal safeguards and security practices may not be sufficient. Children present additional challenges because of their natural characteristics: innocence, curiosity, desire for independence, and fear of punishment. You need to consider these characteristics when determining how to protect your data and your child.

You may think since your child is only playing a game, researching a term paper, typing their homework assignment, that he or she can't cause any harm. But what if, when saving their paper, the child deletes a necessary program file? Or what if they unintentionally visit a malicious web site that infects your computer with a virus? These are just two possible scenarios. Mistakes can happen, but the child may not realize what they’ve done or may not tell you what happened because they’re afraid of getting punished.

Online predators present another significant threat, particularly to children. Since the nature of the Internet is so anonymous, it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves and manipulate or trick other users. Adults often fall victim to these ploys, and so do children, who are usually much more open, trusting and even easier targets. Another growing problem is cyber-bullying. These threats are even greater if a child has access to email, instant messaging programs, visits chat rooms, and/or uses social networking sites.

What can you do?

  • Be involved
  • Keep your computer in an open area
  • Set rules and warn them about dangers
  • Monitor computer activity
  • Keep lines of communication open

You can do just about anything on the Internet these days: watch movies, order clothes, meet new friends, share photos—anything! So can your kids, if they use of a computer with Internet access. Some parents feel that this freedom goes a bit too far. Just as they wouldn't let the kids wander Times Square unescorted, parents would like to control just where kids can go on the Web. What can parental-control software do to keep kids away from these shady sites?

Parental Control System in Internet Explorer

Microsoft Internet Explorer can be used to enforce parental control rating systems. Here are some of the capabilities of the parental control system:

  • Permits access only to materials specifically approved as safe for kids by blocking inappropriate content
  • Allows you to specify what types of materials are appropriate for your child
  • Help monitor your child's activity on the Internet by storing names of sites and/or snapshots of the material seen by your child on the computer for you to view later
  • Allows you to set different restrictions for each family member
  • Limits results of an Internet search to content appropriate for kids
  • Enforces time limits set by parents
  • Allows access only to monitored chat rooms or blocks access to all chat rooms

To learn how you can enable this, follow the links for Windows 7 and Windows 8 as appropriate.

Mentors in the Community

Mentors in the Community is designed to educate parents and students what they need to know to avoid falling victim of individuals who are trying to take advantage of their youth and innocence.

We can deliver ‘chalk talks’ to help your school learn more about this important subject. Schools interested in signing up for these chalk talks, should have their Community Outreach Coordinator contact us or any member of “Mentors in the Community”.


Original content from Mike Rosado and Randolph Reyes, both from the US Central Region team. Posted by MSPFE editor Arvind Shyamsundar.

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