Are Internet Message Boards Safe for My Child?

Message boards can be fun sites used to discuss popular topics such as music or movies as well as, say, talk about homework assignments.  And, yes, they can also be misused by predators, cyberbullies, and the like.Are Internet Message Boards and Forums Safe?

However, there’s no reason that Internet message boards can’t be safe for your child if you have taken the time to explain the do’s and don’t of Internet safety and established rules with your child. 

Ground rules for allowing your child to use a message board should include

  • Your child must use an alias, not your child’s real name.  That way other people don’t know who your child really is
  • Your child must use what is called an avatar, rather than your child’s own photo.  Avatars can be comic characters, photos of movie stars…anything but your child.  That way other people don’t know what your child actually looks like
  • Should someone on the message board seem to be a problem, you child needs to tell you so that you take appropriate action, including blocking that user from contacting your child and reporting the user to the message board owners.
  • Your child can post only to message boards that you have approved.  There are plenty of message boards your child will enjoy without having to use one that might not be safe.

Should you feel you need to go further to protect your child from the potential problems they might face on Internet message boards, you can always use parental controls or Internet filtering software.  However, you should always start with trusting your child first, rather than assuming they’re going to do something wrong.  Taking the time to discuss potential problems and setting ground rules together will often be the most effective way to protect your child online, whether it be on message boards or simply surfing the Internet.

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