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Internet Safety: Tips to Keep Kids Safe on Skype

September 1st marked the first day of school for a 10-year-old girl in Lake Forest, Illinois. That evening, she used Skype, a free video chat and instant messaging service, to talk to her friends about their first day and discuss homework assignments. Everything was going great until an unfamiliar screen name popped up and requested to chat with the girl. Thinking it was a neighborhood friend, she accepted the request, and what she saw next was extremely shocking.

The video revealed a naked, middle-aged man inappropriately touching himself and sending tasteless messages. The girl screamed for her mother who quickly notified the police. The incident is currently under investigation, and highlights how truly dangerous the Internet can be. As parents, we must continue to make online safety a priority, and do our best to keep our children out of harm’s way.

Here are some useful tips to help keep kids safe while using Skype:

1.       Parents should monitor their children while they are utilizing Skype. If necessary, keep the computer in a common area, like the living room.

2.       Discuss “stranger danger” with your children, especially how to avoid contact with strangers online and what to do if one tries to communicate with them on the computer.

3.       Make sure your child’s account is protected with a unique, long password that includes a combination of letters numbers, and characters.

4.       Update your privacy settings for receiving communications. For a PC, open Skype and click “Tools.” Then go to “Options” and “Privacy.” On a Mac, open Skype and click “Preferences” and then “Privacy.”

5.       Do not include personal details in your Skype profile, as some parts are publicly available. If you want to keep it as private as possible, leave your profile completely blank.

6.       If you think your account may have been compromised, change your Skype password immediately.

7.       If a questionable incident occurs (like the one described above), contact your local authorities. Be sure to save all pertinent information for the police, such as the predator’s username, time and date of the incident, and any other details about the conversation itself.

8.       Consider avoiding Skype all together and instead allow your children to use a safe Internet chatting service that is especially designed for children, like Skypito.

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3 Responses »

  1. skype is not dangerous with saftey settings

  2. Good article though avoiding using Skype all together is not the best idea. I'm using free encryption utility Rohos Mini Drive to password protect access to the application. This way Skype cannot be launched unless I type in correct password for my encrypted disk. Cool - two in one - encrypted partition and password protected access to several applications; in my case I password protected Skype and Firefox.

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Welcome to the SafetyWeb blog. We set this up so that our employees and guest bloggers would have a forum to discuss pertinent and emerging topics related to online safety. We will cover topics such as Online Friends and Online Reputation Management. Our goal is to empower parents and protect kids and teens. To that end, we will often point you to any of our own internal reference articles, as well as external resources that we find useful. If you have any suggestions for topics you would like us to address, please send us an email. In the meantime, we hope that you enjoy this blog, our free resources, and the SafetyWeb product. Here's to online safety!

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