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How do I know if my child is chatting to strangers online?

If you have children on the Internet often, using instant messenger and talking to friends in chat rooms, the chances are that a stranger may have tried to talk to them. And while you have taught your kids not to talk to strangers, they don't always know that the same rules apply online. These are the some of the ways that you can find out what your kids are dong online:

1. Start talking. A good place to start is to find out what your kids do online, and what they know about privacy and safety. Ask them to show you their sites and help them review privacy settings. And keep the conversation going.
2. Develop age-appropriate rules. This is easier for younger children of course. If you have older children, you still need to make sure your kids understand risks and how to avoid them, how privacy protection works and your behavior expectations.
3. Start young. As with other important life lessons, try to get ahead of the curve. Educate them early and put limits in place, gradually relaxing boundaries as they get older. If they are older, treat them maturely but frankly as you do with other important topics.
4. Take an interest. Spend time online together at the sites they visit and draw your own conclusions. If your main goal is keeping them safe, focus on teaching them basics-not to trust strangers, keep personal information private, what is inappropriate to post online and understanding how to set privacy controls. Just knowing that you are involved will help.
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