Chic Geek Speak Column

Pop-ups and Ad/Spyware Explained


Dot-Com Mom's
Internet Safety Rules for Parents:

Be informed and educated about the Internet.
"Surf" with your kids as much as possible.
Keep all computers in the open.
Teach kids to NEVER give out personal information online.
Set appropriate limits for computer use.
Establish a family policy for safe and acceptable Internet use.
Consider software tools such as filters and monitors.
Consider sharing an account with your kids.
Help children choose screen names that don't reveal their age or gender.
Know your children's online friends.
Never arrange in-person meetings with people you only know online.
Be wary of e-mail from people you don't know.
Tell your kids -- always tell a parent or trusted grownup if something online or in an e-mail upsets them.

© Natalie Walker Whitlock

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Recent studies and surveys tracking children and the Internet reveal:

* Education is the key driver for family Internet use today. Both parents and children say that kids spend more Internet time on learning activities than anything else. Students see the Internet as a virtual textbook and reference library, a virtual tutor and as a place to conduct virtual study groups, and as a virtual guidance counselor when they are deciding about careers and colleges.

* The Internet is the primary source of information for US schoolchildren according to 71% of poll respondents. 41% said they use email and instant messaging to contact teachers or classmates about homework, and 34 % say they have downloaded study aids from the Internet.

* The gender gap between boys' and girls' Internet use has disappeared. For the first time, girls are on the Net in proportions equal to or greater than boys; and mothers seem poised to outnumber fathers online.

* The racial divide is narrowing, with 50% of Hispanic children now using the Internet from some location, and 58 % of African-American children using the Internet, as compared to 19% in 2000. Low-income children's access underwent a 96% growth increase, from 28 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2002.

* Schools are "leveling the playing field," with 25% of children who do not have access to a computer at home able to access one at school, nearly equal across all income, race and ethnic groups. Children's Internet access from school is expected to surpass home access by the end of 2003.

* Kids are wising up to online dangers, and parents have an impact. Only 11% of the 4 million 7-16 year olds surveyed would give out their home address online to get free samples, gifts, or information. Of those who wouldn't -- 41 % said it was because their parents had told them not to. In June 2000, 29% say they would have done so.

© Natalie Walker Whitlock

Luckily, parents aren't alone in the fight to keep kids safe online. Here are some great resources offered by law enforcement, youth programs, schools and cities across America: -- online safety for kids. -- oldest and largest online safety organization.
WiredPatrol -- Internet safety, emergency help, and education.
CyberTipline -- tip line for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
NetSmartz -- interactive games and activities teach Internet safety.
GetNetWise -- helps parents educate themselves and their children about Internet safety.
PedoWatch -- information about sex offenders for anyone responsible for protecting children (may contain offensive material).
Yahooligan's Parent's Guide -- directory of parental control software options.
Disney's Surf-Swell Island -- Mickey and the Gang tackle online issues such as privacy, nettiquete and avoiding viruses.
PBSKids Web License -- a simple quiz tests your Web sense to earn a printable "license."


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