Keep It Legal

As parents, you want your kids’ online activities to be safe, healthy — and legal. Make sure you are aware of the consequences of online piracy and gambling, and that your kids are, too. 

Online Piracy

Recent crackdowns on online piracy mean that the illegal downloading of music, movies, games and software is no longer a penalty-free crime. If your kids download illegal files, they put you at risk for steep fines or the confiscation of your computer system. If that doesn’t worry you, consider that your kids may unwittingly download viruses or spyware that could have severe consequences on your computer and the data it houses.

Here are three suggestions of things you can do to cut down on piracy in your home:

  1. Remind kids that downloading illegally is stealing. Warn your kids about the penalties of downloading. Besides very large monetary penalties for piracy, your home computer may also be confiscated.
  2. Set up standard user accounts in Windows 7 and turn on parental controls. You can go so far as to block all downloads to your kids’ accounts.
  3. Show your children how to download legally. Numerous legal sites allow the downloading of music, movies or games for free or at a low price. Some music download services allow users to listen to unlimited amounts of music online for a monthly subscription fee. Consider setting up a monthly allowance for music, videos, games or other software.
Online Gambling

The internet is flush with free and legal online game sites that can be attractive to kids. Mixed in with these sites are gambling sites, where actual money is wagered, won and lost. Gambling is illegal in some states and may result in criminal prosecution.

Here are three suggested steps to help prevent your child from engaging in gambling:
  1. Set up standard user accounts in Windows 7 and turn on parental controls.
  2. Most gambling sites require users to submit credit card information to begin play. Make sure that your kids do not have access to this information by keeping your credit cards (and monthly credit card statements) in a secret location.
  3. Lay down ground rules about the types of games or game sites that are allowed in your house.
Bottom Line

Piracy and gambling can carry a high price. Both can wreak havoc on your family’s finances. Help your children understand the risks and you can help yourself avoid significant headaches.