The security company has a list of safety tips, as well as a free 14-page handbook with safety tips, best practices, and a glossary of common acronyms and abbreviations that are often used in text messaging and instant messaging so parents can stay "in the know" with their kids' lingo and communications.
"Few parents would consider handing their child the car keys without having spent time with them behind the wheel," said Peter Watkins, CEO of Webroot, in a written statement. "Yet, too often parents give their kids a computer with Internet access and set them free, which can make for an unsafe user experience. As a security company, we feel it is our job to help people use the Internet safely and to be educated in best practices."
In May, Webroot released a study that showed that what parents think their kids are doing online and what kids say they're doing online are often two different things. More than 70% of the surveyed children, ages 11 to 17, said their parents ask them about their online activities, but they may not be getting accurate answers.
According to Webroot, more than half of the teens surveyed said they buy things online, but 71% of parents said their children never buy anything over the Internet. Forty percent of the kids said they use instant messaging and social networking Web sites, like MySpace and Facebook every day, while only 30% of the parents said their children participate in these sites.
And according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the spring and summer seasons are when the majority of child abductions take place. As summer gets underway and school-age children log more time on home computers -- leaving them open to predators -- Webroot's researchers are urging parents to play an active role in regularly monitoring their kids' online activities.
Webroot offered these safety tips:
- Talk And Listen. -- Talk to children and teenagers about Internet safety. Surf the Web together.
- Be Informed. -- Know what Web sites your child visits and who they are communicating with.
- Become Internet Savvy -- Ask your children to teach you how to use programs they use.
- Report Trouble -- If you or your children encounter inappropriate contact, report it immediately to law enforcement. Help your child understand what inappropriate contact means to you.
- Protect Your System -- Use filtering or monitoring software. Empower yourself by knowing your child is protected online even if you are not there to supervise.