Is Your Kid Safe In CyberSpace? They’re on it every day. They communicate with their friends. They play games, download software, and even talk to strangers… sometimes without knowing any better. Children are an integral part of our online community. The Internet has about as the same role in our children’s lives as the television or telephone. There are lots of opportunities for kids online. Learning opportunities, entertainment, and personal growth are all available to those who “surf.” But do you know the risks they put you and themselves into when they sign online? The challenge for parents is to educate themselves and their children about how to use the internet safely. Here are three easy steps and simple resources to make you and your kids “net-wise!” 1. Take advantage of filtering tools available on most web services and browsers, such as AOL, Prodigy, etc. Three of the most popular tools include CyberPatrol, NetNanny, and SurfWatch. Like the rest of the world, the internet may contain material that is inappropriate for children. One way to control what your child can see and do online is go to GetNetWise.org. There you can locate “tools for families” to help filter out the wrong sites. 2. Have a talk with your children about online safety. I have an Internet Safety Video for you. There is also a web site developed in partnership with the National School Boards Association, click here. 3. Learn about your kid’s online world. Do what responsible parents should do: pay attention to your children when they go online. The more involved you are with your children’s online activities, the easier it will be to set limits and give direction. Clearly, there’s no substitute for parents simply getting involved. As parents, you should get to know your children’s online friends and their favorite online areas, just as you know their physical neighborhood friends, where they go, and what they watch on television.

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