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Your Children and the Internet

 
 
Certainly by now we are all aware that more and more people of all ages are out there "cruising" the information super highway. And, as we are beginning to learn almost daily, the highways of cyberspace are fraught with some very real hazards-especially for children.
 
While the internet and popular on-line services do offer many great opportunities for fun and learning for youngsters, parents should be aware of the dangers lurking in the modem which links their home computer to the world. You have no doubt heard about recent incidents in which children have encountered strangers on-line and have agreed to meet them, sometimes with tragic results. Or perhaps you have had first-hand experience with some of the violent or sexually-explicit material available on the internet. Itís not hard to find.
So, what can you do to safeguard your children?
Well, for starters, donít let young children surf the net. Try to place limits on where they can and where they canít, even if it means installing protective software, such as SurfWatch, which regulates the internet material available to children. Think of the internet as an international city of millions of people. As a parent, it would be inconceivable to think of letting your child wander around that ďcityĒ unchaperoned.
 
Here are some safety tips for parents of young net surfers:
  • Never let your child give out his or her full name, address, phone number, or credit card number - even to people who claim to be friends. Explain to your child that it is very easy for people to conceal their identities on-line
  • Never let your child arrange a face-to-face meeting with an on-line friend alone
  • Remind your child that if he/she ever feels threatened by something or someone on-line, he/she should simply log off. If possible, save any threatening messages and bring them to the attention of the system operator.

 

Also keep in mind that some on-line services have areas, such as adult chat rooms, where children should not be at all. America On-Line and Prodigy allow parents to restrict some membersí access privileges, and CompuServe honors parentsí requests that their children not be allowed to participate in certain public forums. If you come across on-line areas you want your child kept out of, send a message to the system operator.
 

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