- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000

The following guidelines for parents are suggested by many Internet experts.
One of the most important points is to instruct your children never to give out personal information, such as name, address, age and where they go to school.
Other strategy-related questions to consider include:
Where will the computer be in the home? Experts recommend a public area, such as the family room or kitchen, but never in a child's bedroom.
Who is the Internet Service Provider manager? Experts suggest this should always be a parent because the ISP determines what kind of blocking or filtering will be provided.
Who sets time limits? Again, experts recommend that parents take charge and supervise their children on line. It's important to remember that children should not spend all their free time on line. Their best friends should be those they see in person. The Internet should not take the place of other activities.

Safe children

To keep your children safe on their Internet journeys, experts suggest these tips:
Be involved in your child's Internet adventures.
Become educated about the Internet and learn how to use it. Have your child teach you. Experts says that's a great way to create a bond with your child.
Know the legal mechanisms in place to protect your child www.cybertipline.com is linked to the FBI, which will go after predators.
Take advantage of technological solutions, such as filtering software.
Set time limits on your child's on-line exposure.
Make a contract with your children and post it near the computer.
View your children's on-line history to see where they are spending their time.
Encourage the use of child-friendly sites.

Ground rules

It's important to establish basic rules and make your children adhere to them, experts say. These are some of the decisions each family should make based on their family values:
At what age should children go on line? It varies by individual child, the experts say. Even young children can benefit as long as parents monitor their activities.
Should computer use be limited? Experts recommend limiting time on the computer so children do not become isolated from family and friends.
Should you use filtering software? Again, this is a choice to be made by each family. There are advantages and disadvantages to filters.

On-line dangers

There are two sets of dangers for children on line:
Passive danger involves offensive or inappropriate material.
Another danger happens when children meet on line and in chat rooms. That's where ped-ophiles will pose as someone else to gain a child's trust and confidence. Remember, cyber-stalking is unlawful.

Continuing issues

These are some of the issues that will continue to confront parents as the Internet becomes more and more a part of daily life:
Copyright/intellectual freedom.
On-line bullying.
Schools and plagiarism.
Truth vs. fiction. (Everyoneis a publisher in cyberspace.)
Internet attention deficit disorder.

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