Online Privacy is Primary
Why is online privacy vitally important to your kids' well being? Because strongly enforced privacy practices can help keep online predators from targeting your family. 

Strategies for Minimizing Risk
Here are some strategies that you and your children can use to help minimize the risks online: 

Talk About It.
Take action by talking to your kids about online predators. Explain that Internet rules are in place to protect their well-being. Encourage kids to share their experiences without fear of punishment.
Tell your kids to trust their instincts. They should tell an adult immediately if anything or anyone online makes them feel uncomfortable or frightened.

Chat Safely.
Take action by setting rules for safe chatting. For kids under 8, disallow access to all chat rooms. Older children (8 – 12 years) should use well-monitored kids' chat rooms. Encourage even teens to use monitored chat rooms. Learn what chat rooms your kids visit and sample them to see what kinds of conversations happen there.
Tell your kids to make sure you approve of the chat rooms they visit and that the sites are intended for their age group. Kids should choose screen names that do not reveal personal details or attract unwanted attention. They should never go to private chat areas for one-on-one conversations. 

Keep the Computer Public and Personal Info Private.
Take action by moving the family computer to a central area of the home where it can be easily monitored or observed. Sit with your children when they're online and participate in their experiences.
Tell your kids not to reveal personal information about themselves or their family online. Even seemingly innocuous information like age and gender can be dangerous when revealed to the wrong audience. Discourage young kids from filling out online profiles on social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook or Windows Live Spaces.

Make Smart Software Choices
Take action action by enabling parental control software built into new operating systems like Windows Vista® . Or invest in software for all operating systems, such as Net NannyTM , SafeEyesTM , IMSafer or Child Safe® .
Tell your kids to obey age limits on the sites they visit. Encourage them to use email filters and discourage downloading files from unknown sources. 

Use Effective Email Safeguards
Take action by setting an email policy. When your children are young, they should share a family email address rather than have their own email accounts. As they get older, you can ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to set up a separate email address, but your children's mail can still reside in your account. Find out what kinds of email safeguards exist in places outside the home where kids often use the Internet.
Tell your kids never to respond to emails or instant messages from strangers. Teach them to cut off any email communications, instant messaging conversations or chats if anyone starts asking questions that are too personal or are sexually suggestive. 

Bottom Line
By using smart online privacy practices, you can lower the risk that your family will become the target of online predators. Recognizing the tactics of online predators, however, is equally important to your family's safety.