The Internet is one of the greatest sources of research, learning, and creativity ever gathered. Sadly, the Internet can also be a very dangerous place for kids looking to play with their "Neopets", study for algebra class, or research a paper for school. There is a wide Internet out there and it is important that parents educate their children prior to allowing them to use the computer to access it. Aside from the never-ending stream of adult sites, there are thieves, con artists and predators that lay in wait to take advantage of the uniformed.
Because of these dangers, it is important for parents to set some ground rules before allowing their children to access the Internet. Furthermore, children need to understand these rules and the importance of following them:
- They should never give their full name, address or phone number to anyone online.
- They should never converse with someone they do not know on the Internet.
- They should also never give out their Internet password to anyone, under any circumstance.
- Above all else, they should understand that it is never acceptable to agree to meet with anyone without first checking with their parents. If the parents then agree to meet, make sure that it is in a public place and that a parent is present.
Some Statistics to consider
- The Kaiser Family Foundation found that among teens online, 70 percent have accidentally come across pornography on the Web (Kaiser Family Foundation).
- Nine out of 10 children aged between eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet. In most cases, the adult sites were accessed unintentionally when a child, often in the process of doing homework, used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures. (London School of Economics January 2002)
- A study by the NOP Research Group found that of the four million children, aged seven to 17 who surf the net, 29% percent would freely give out their home address and 14% would freely give out their e-mail address if asked. (Telegraph.co.uk January 2002)
The entire study is online at http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/Toplines.pdf
With the amount of information out there and the ever-changing landscape of the Internet, it can be difficult for parents to keep up. The good news is there is hope. Several websites exist solely to offer information and guidelines to parents seeking to protect their children online. In addition to this, several programs can assist parents in protecting their children when they go online.
The goal of this article is not to make you turn off the computer put it in a box and take it out only for work. Rather the idea is to give you the information that you can use to guide your children and keep them safe online. The internet is like anything else an effective tool if used correctly but dangerous if taken for granted. If you have any questions about the information in this article or need advice concerning your computer, then please feel free to drop me an email or ping me on Yahoo and I will be happy to assist you in anyway possible.