to Say It to Teens
by Richard Heyman
Awesome Internet Sites for Kids!
by Sandra Antoniani
IT SAFE ON THE INTERNET HIGHWAY
by Tania K. Cowling
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BASIC RULES FOR ONLINE SAFETY:
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
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
- 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.