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We as parents never leave our young children alone in a house or vehicle. Children need constant supervision. The same rule applies to online activities.

Children and teenagers get a lot of benefit being online, but they can also be targets of crime and exploitation in this environment as in any other. Children are curious and anxious to explore this new world and the relationships it brings. Children and teenagers need parental supervision and common sense advice so that their experiences in cyberspace are happy, healthy, and productive.

The Internet is an important source of knowledge, a research tool and a means of social interaction for children, but it can also expose them to dangers and inappropriate material. That’s why it is important to know how to keep your children safe online. There have been some highly publicised cases of abuse using online like the Blue whale challenge, harassment and pornography. Like many other cases of crimes, the reporting of these cases is infrequent. Some cases even go undetected or are detected after major losses are incurred. The major reason behind this is that the child is aloof and does not want to discuss his/her issues with parents. Parents after hearing the news of various incidents often out of fear try to keep children away from the internet. This is not a solution. Would we not keep our children out of school fearing few bullies right?

Some things you can do to help your children stay safe online include:

• Install software on your computer which either block restricted content so your children cannot access certain sites or monitors activity so that you can review online behaviour

• Know who your children are making contact with online. If they are not your children’s actual friends then question their cyber friendship

• Know which social networking sites your child is on and what information they are posting

• Check that your children understand the dangers of posting personal information on social networking sites

• Do not allow your children to use the computer in private areas of your home

• If you or your child becomes suspicious about a person online, stop contact immediately

• Nothing helps better than an open talk with your child. Educate them on below safety guidelines.

• Never give away personal information like address, school name, or telephone number in public groups and chats.

• Never befriend anyone online if you don't know them personally.

• Never respond to messages from strangers especially if the message content is suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or makes you feel uncomfortable. Inform parents if they receive such messages.

• Never make your pictures public. Learn the safety guidelines and privacy settings of social networking sites and use them.

 • Set some timings in a day for internet access.

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