Cyber smart

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Keeping your child safe online

By Chief Lee Tramel, Knox County Sheriff’s Office


The Internet is a wonderful place for kids to learn and have fun, but it also exposes them to a lot of dangers. As a parent, it is your job to monitor your child’s Internet usage and to use the maximum privacy and security settings, as well as parental controls, on browsers, email accounts, and websites. Do not let computer illiteracy keep you from protecting your child. If you are unsure of how to implement these privacy settings, find someone who can help you. There are some very important steps to take to help provide a safer online experience for your child:

  • Share an email account with your children so you can monitor messages.
  • Monitor your children’s use of social media, if you have chosen to allow it. Your children should not have any sort of account to which you do not have the user name and password. Set up accounts like email addresses and instant messenger accounts with your children.
  • Do not divulge their name, age, address, phone number or school in their profile or screen name. Children should never give anyone or any website their personal information. This includes their address, phone number, the school they attend, their Social Security Number, their Driver’s License number, or where they are socializing. Instruct your children to keep their passwords safe.
  • Monitor your credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar account charges.
  • Find out what online protection is offered by your child’s school, friends’ homes, after-school center, or any place where children could use a computer without your supervision.
  • Keep the computer in a common area, not in individual bedrooms, where you can watch and monitor its use.
  • Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behavior.


“Do not let computer illiteracy keep you from protecting your child. If you are unsure of how to implement these privacy settings, find someone who can help you.”


  • Forbid your child from entering private chat rooms. Block them with safety features provided by your Internet service provider or with special filtering software. Be aware that posting messages to chat rooms reveals a user’s email address to others.
  • Instruct your child to be nice to people online. Cyber bullying is not cool and is very dangerous. Tell your child to tell his or her friends that, if they are cyber bullying, that it is not funny.
  • Tell your children to never share photos or post information that would embarrass them. Tell them that if it is not something they would show or tell their teacher, their parents, and their entire school, then it is not something that should be posted online. Things that we put on the internet are there forever.
  • Instruct your children to talk to an adult that they trust immediately if they see anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable. Take your children seriously if they report an uncomfortable online exchange.
  • Forward copies of obscene or threatening messages you or your kids receive to your Internet service provider.

Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678 if you are aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography online. Contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI if your child has received child pornography via the Internet.


Lee Tramel is the Assistant Chief Deputy for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. During his 26 year career, he also served in the civil warrants division and as Assistant Director of the Court Services Division. Lee is a Knoxville native, where he lives with his wife and 10 year old daughter.

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