1. Use Parental Controls
AOL offers a free Parental Controls service so you decide what your children see. AOL Guardian helps monitor their activity.
2. Get anti-virus software
Anti-virus software and a good firewall will prevent hackers from taking control of your PC. Online gaming can make it particularly vulnerable to attack.
3. Get anti-spyware tools
Spyware is the term for a programme that snoops on your online activities. Download anti-spyware tools and run them regularly to make sure your Web experience is secure.
4. Don’t download files from emails or Web sites
It should be a rule in your home that no one downloads anything unless you know exactly where it came from and who sent it. Attached files can contain anything from viruses to nasty stuff you wouldn’t want to see.
5. If it sounds too good to be true, it is
Yes, sometimes people win the lottery, but not every day. Most exciting offers are nothing of the kind. Steer clear of tempting prizes, ‘free’ offers and other online scams and hoaxes. Be vigilant and sensible. If it seems too good to be true, or suspicious, then just close or delete it – whatever it is.
6. Use your instincts - be suspicious
If you use chat rooms, stay vigilant for unacceptable behaviour. When in conversation in an online environment with several people, it can be easy to let down your guard. If you feel threatened or in any way uncomfortable, leave the chat room and report the incident to a moderator.
7. Don’t give out personal information
Use trusted sites that offer secure servers if ordering something online. Never give details out via Instant Message or email.
8. Avoid spam and spim
Make sure your email and instant messaging controls are set up so only people you know can contact you. That way, you avoid unwanted spam emails or spim - Instant Messages offering you all kinds of rubbish. Never respond.
9. Beware of ‘phishing’
Phishing is fraudulent online activity designed to fool victims into revealing personal information for criminal gain. Keep your wits about you, and be deeply suspicious of any unsolicited email from anywhere. Do not click on live links, or insert any details into input fields in emails, pop-ups or Web pages if you are not sure where they come from.
Choose a neutral Screen Name
Your email address or Screen Name is your online identity. Make sure it doesn’t identify you, or draw unnecessary harassment. Try your initials or a gender-neutral word.