Internet Safety


As a parent, we know that you want to keep your child safe when using the Internet. Pennfield has provided Internet filtering on every laptop while the student is at school. But even with filters in place on the laptops or at home, no one can guarantee that their children will be 100% safe while they are online. Filters are an aid to help students develop responsibility. The most important question to ask yourself is,

"How can I help my young person gain the knowledge, decision-making skills, and motivation to make safe and responsible choices when he/she is using the Internet?"

Many times, parents feel ill-equipped to help their children when their own knowledge is minimal. How can I help my children when they know more than I will ever know about being online? Remember that even though your children may know more about the Internet than you do, you know more about life. In the last 10 years, the Internet has grown from a time that when you clicked an AOL link you went and had breakfast while you waited for it to load, to what it is today. If there has been that much growth in the last 10 years, what will we see in the next 10? Even with all the negative "stuff," this is the most amazing time in the history of mankind- the opportunities that people have today because they are connected to the entire world is mind boggling. It is a part of our children's world. We can't protect them from it but we can teach them to be responsible and how to be safe by helping them how to learn to use "the filter between their ears" and good judgment.



Children learn responsibility and values from their parents, beginning at a very young age and continuing throughout their lives. Responsible behavior is influenced by several external forces:

  • Moral values and society's expectations of what is right and wrong
  • Recognition that an action has caused harm which leads to remorse
  • Social disapproval which leads to feelings of shame or loss of face
  • Negative consequences imposed by a person of authority



It is very obvious that when people use the Internet, they are more willing to do and say things that they would be much less likely to do in the real world, face-to-face. Technology creates the illusion that you can be invisible or anonymous. When you can't see someone's facial expressions or body language or hear their tone of voice, much is lost in the translation. If you choose to be unkind, you don't "see" the results. How can we help our children become responsible Internet Users- to be able to translate the moral values you have taught them to their experiences using the Internet?

  • Emphasize the importance of making responsible choices and use effective decision making strategies. Have your children ask themselves:
    •  Golden Rule- How would you feel if someone did the same thing to you?
    • Trusted Adult- What would your Mom, Dad, guardian, or another trusted adult who is important in your life think?
    • Is there a Rule? Rules and laws protect the rights of others. Are you violating a rule?
    • Front Page- If your action was reported on the front page of the newspaper, what would other people think?
    • If everybody did? What would happen if everybody REALLY made a decision to do the same thing?
    • Real World- Would this action be acceptable if you did it to someone in real life?
    • Reflection- Does your action reflect you and how you want to be portrayed?
  • Help your child understand how actions can cause harm to people they cannot see.
  • Remind your child to do what is right according to their own moral values. Recognize that this is a developmental process that will require you to monitor your child's computer usage as you teach them how to translate those to online responsibility.
    (adapted from Nancy Willard- Center for Safe and Responsible INternet Use- used with permission)

What things do I need to consider to help my child be safe online?

  • How much time do you want your child to spend on the Internet? (The Internet does not need to take the place of family time, study time, or other activities your family considers important.)
  • Do you want your child to have access to email?
  • Will your child be allowed to go to chat rooms? (Most chat rooms are not what they appear to be. Staying out of chatrooms is the safest thing to do.)
  • Will my child be allowed to have a social web site such as MySpace, Xanga, Friendster, etc? If so, how can I help my child stay safe while using these sites?
  • What search engines will you allow your child to use? (Some search engines are filtered. Many are not. HCPS provides a filtered search engine that is password protected for all students to use.)
  • When your child is using the laptop, where will he/she be located? (When a child is using the Internet, having him/her in a central location has the potential to make the student more careful about Internet sites he/she chooses to visit.)
  • What types of sites will your child be allowed/not allowed to visit?
  • Will your child be allowed to purchase items on line? (Sites must be secure before purchases are made to protect your credit card number.)
  • How do I protect my child from identity theft? (Keeping passwords secure is very important for all students.)
  • Does your child know what to do if he/she accidentally stumbles across a site that is inappropriate?
  • Have you discussed downloading music and copyright issues with your child? Does your child understand that copying and pasting from the Internet could constitute plagiarism?
  • Have you discussed the dangers of communication with strangers online? Does your child know never to meet in person anyone he/she has met online?
  • Does your child have a clear understanding of how important it is not to give any personal information?

Consider a Family Contract
A family contract is an excellent way to be sure that all parties involved understand the expectations the family has for Internet access and a good place to begin when talking with your child about the Internet. Click on the links below to download PDF (Portable Document Format) examples of family contracts. (All documents are used by permission of the publisher)

Internet Safety Links: