Internet safety is the newest in the safety issues for our children. Just like so many other concerns parents have, I think it is largely based on inflated incidence of actual tragedies. So much of parenting these days has risen out of paranoia. I know that some awful things do happen to children but it is not the norm and I think parents should stop acting as though it is.
What really scares me about my child online is bullying from her friends/schoolmates or by her. While also rare you do hear about children killing themselves from bullying online, which I think parents are less tuned into. Here is where I will spend my energy in internet safety. Teaching my child not to put anything online she wouldn't want her grandparents to see, to keep arguments and name calling off the computer entirely, and to let us or another adult know if she sees any bullying or other questionable behavior.
I'm not saying you shouldn't advise your children on safe practices while on the computer. Definitely drill into them to never give out personal information, utilize parent controls, teach them netiquette, even keep the computer in the living room.
For at least a hundred years people have explained to their children not to take candy from strangers. It was good advice then and it's good advice now. Make sure your child understands it figuratively and literally. But know that the vast majority of children who are abducted are taken by someone they know. The likelihood of either scenario is still incredibly remote.
All we can really do to protect our children is raise educated, empathetic, self confident individuals, and cross our fingers. Because really what these tragedies mostly come down to is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Only those skills will help them steer clear of those places.
Elise Crane Derby is the Founder of Elise's Ramblings and MomsLA