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Without a doubt, the reach of the Internet is amazing. It allows people from different parts of the globe to communicate instantly with one another. With this power come many risks and potential dangers however. One of the biggest risks comes when children use the Internet. In light of these dangers, you can help protect children online by taking a few simple steps. Watch Your Child's Internet Usage The first step toward protecting children is to watch how your own children use the Internet. Try to set realistic boundaries for them, such as reasonable time limits and defining what sites are acceptable to visit. With the popularity of MySpace, You Tube, Facebook, and other social networking sites, your child is probably "chatting" with many people that they do not know. Don't Share Personal Information Make sure that your children are not sharing any sensitive or personal information that can be used to harm or exploit them. Online predators are known to use these social networking sites to locate kids they can take advantage of and victimize at some time in the future. Monitor the Chat Rooms You should also monitor your child's use of chat rooms. Chat rooms are literally crawling with online predators who take on a false identity and pretend that they are another young child. Online predators will sometimes befriend children in chat rooms and persuade them to meet up with them in person. As a parent, it is your responsibility to protect children by paying close attention to what they are doing while on the internet. Join a Child Advocacy Group You can also take part in one of the many groups that helps protect children online. All you need to do is search the Internet a little bit and you will find many organizations that devote their activities to keeping kids safe when using the internet. Report Suspicious Activity You can help by reporting any suspicious activity that you see or experience. Was your child contacted by someone in a way that made him or her feel uncomfortable? Are you receiving phone calls from people that you do not know because your child posted their phone number on MySpace or Facebook? These activities may be considered harassment and should be reported to authorities as soon as possible.

Protecting Your Child is Your Responsibility Finally, it is your parental responsibility to do all you can to protect children online, especially your own. Don't feel bad if your child resists or gets angry at your attempts to monitor their online activity. It is up to you to take control because it is for your child's safety whether he or she realizes it or not.

Jesse Whitehead writes articles for several online publications and websites, including Fluke Digital Multimeters, which provides helpful information about Fluke Test Equipment, multimeters, and calibration devices.

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Tools protecting your children online.