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Dave's Beginners Guide to the Internet

Safety Issues

Safety is important on the Internet, especially for children. If you are a parent concerned with what your child may find on the Internet, you may wish to consider filtering software. Filtering software will block most objectionable sites and can usually be disabled with a password you set. (A disadvantage of filtering software is that it also blocks a lot of non-objectionable content, like information on breast cancer, because it could find breast as an objectionable word.)

Other ways to stay safe:

  • Don't give out personal information like street addresses and phone numbers on your personal web site or in chats.
  • If you are chatting or have an e-mail contact you are not completely comfortable with, do not tell them the exact area you live. Give then your general area (example: Southern California) or general metropolitan area (example: near San Diego).
  • Don't give out bank account numbers or credit card numbers in e-mail or enter them on non-secure web servers. If you want to purchase something, make sure you are on a secure server before you start typing a credit card number. (You can usually tell the difference between a secure server and a non-secure server because secure servers start with https:// in the Location: field at the top of the web browser, while non-secure servers start with http://) Secure servers encrypt your data so no one else can get your information except the computer at the other end.
  • Use a virus scanner. Don't download files from web sites you don't trust or from e-mails that look suspicious. Be careful even if you have a virus scanner installed, because your scanning software does not recognize undiscovered and new viruses. Update your virus definitions so you have the best protection with your software (consult your scanner manual if you need help with that.)
Caution: Be careful when reading e-mail. Most email that looks like its from a bank, credit card company, mortgage company, eBay, PayPal, etc, is actually a criminal trying to rip you off or steal your info.

To stay safe, NEVER click links in an e-mail message that takes you to a page that asks for ANY INFORMATION from you. Instead, go directly to the site. For example, if you want to check on your eBay account, open your web brower and type If you'd like to learn more about protecting yourself from this crime, go to Google and search for "phishing."

NOTE: In the United States, you are only held responsible for the first $50 of an unauthorized charge on your credit card (unfortunately this does not include purchases your children may make.) It doesn't matter whether the charge came from an online or offline store. So don't be afraid to buy online from reputable vendors.

Next Chapter: Finding Stuff on the Web