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What It Takes to Raise Kids Who Will Make Good Decisions

Raising a Responsible Adolescent


How to Say It to Teens
by Richard Heyman

Awesome Internet Sites for Kids!
by Sandra Antoniani


Teen Safety on the Information Highway

Yahooligans Parent Guide

by Tania K. Cowling

When your child spends time on the computer, do you know what he or she is doing or whom he’s communicating with? Many parents have a false sense of security regarding the Internet because they view the computer as a safe educational tool. This is not always true. And, just because it keeps kids home and often in their own rooms; the Internet can be harmful in some cases. As in all areas of your child’s life, you need to stay involved, keep the lines of communication open about Internet activities, and develop rules of safety.

Cyberspace is like a big city. There are libraries, universities, museums, places to have fun, and plenty of opportunities to meet all kinds of nice people. But, like any city, there are also some places and people to avoid. By cautioning your child about the dangers and how to avoid them, together you can take the advantage of all the positive aspects of the Internet, while avoiding most of its pitfalls.


  • Behavior and situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Not everything in cyberspace puts kids in danger, but there is some material that could make them feel uncomfortable. There are web sites, newsgroups, chat rooms, and other places online that could contain material that is sexual and/or violent in nature. People in chat rooms may respond in repulsive or hateful language. No matter what the situation is, remind your children that they have the right and the means to instantly leave any area that is uncomfortable.
  • Exploitation. The most serious risk your child faces involves the possibility of someone hurting or exploiting them because of the information they may post online. Physical abuse is not going to jump out from the monitor, but some adolescents make dates with people to meet in town. Talk openly with your child about these experiences. Discuss the threat of sexual predators. Encourage your child to report individuals that are not following proper Internet protocol.
  • Financial Scams: Your child can put himself and the family at financial risk. The Internet is a place where people can take money from you or your family with false marketing schemes. Be wary of any “get-rich-quick” promises to help you earn lots of money in your spare time. If something sounds “too good to be true”—it probably is.
  • Harassment: Not everyone in cyberspace is courteous. Remind your child that when they enter chat rooms or bulletin boards, there is a chance they will get messages that are harassing, demeaning, or just plain mean. Tell them not to take it personally. Explain to your adolescent that some messages may constitute harassment, which is a crime under federal law. If someone sends them or you a message or images that is obscene, lewd, or indecent with the intent to harass, abuse, annoy or threaten, they should be reported to your Internet service provider and the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline by calling 1-800-843-5678.


  • Never give out personal information such as home address, phone number, or the name of your school.
  • Don’t send pictures without permission.
  • Never give anyone your password, on or off-line.
  • Never meet a person you have talked to online without a parent present.
  • It’s best to have a nightly online curfew for adolescents. Late night chat rooms can have some unpleasant interactions.
  • Don’t respond to inappropriate or offensive messages.
  • Remind your child that the people they meet online may not be who they say they are.
Being actively involved in the lives of their daughters is another way Moms may help preventing early sex. Mothers seem to have more of an influence delaying their daughters from having sex than their sons. Boys may be more influenced by fathers, siblings, and peers on the timing of first intercourse.


As a parent, you can check into services that rate web sites for content as well as filtering programs and browsers that empower parents to block the types of sites they consider to be inappropriate. These programs work in different ways. Some block sites known to contain objectionable material. Some prevent users from entering certain types of information such as their names and address. Other programs keep your kids away from chat rooms or restrict their ability to send or read E-mail. Generally these programs can be configured by a parent to block only the types of sites that the parent considers to be objectionable. Here are some examples.
  • Net Nanny—an excellent program if you have kids that are experimenting with unacceptable sites online. It shows clear messages to the user about violations and keeps logs that the parent can view.
  • ContentBarrier for Mac—a filtering program designed especially for Macintosh computers that block unacceptable sites, monitors chat and shuts it down if inappropriate language occurs, limits time, download ability and more.
  • Norton Internet Security 2002—the parental controls offer customizable options and it also offers a Privacy Control feature which blocks confidential information from being sent through popular instant messenger programs. Packaged with Norton’s virus protection and a firewall.

    Make “surfing the net” a family experience. Ask your adolescent to show you what’s cool. This may be one area where you get to be the student and your child gets to be the teacher.
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