Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Keep Your Kids Safe

Keep Your Kids Safe:
"In September 2003, 53-year-old John Zuccarini was arrested at a Florida hotel and, after admitting to his crimes in a plea bargain, became the first person convicted under the national Truth in Domain Names Act. The crime: According to the United States Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, Zuccarini registered and used more than 3,000 misleading domain names, many of which directed children to hard-core porn sites and graphic depictions of young people engaged in sex acts. The domains included www and—both misspellings of the addresses for popular children's TV shows.

Porn is just one of many issues parents should be concerned about when their kids go online. Problems could be as dangerous as encountering a predator in a chat room, as common as sharing music and software illegally via peer-to-peer file-sharing services, or as simple as spending far too much time playing games and chatting with friends.

Recent market research suggests that many parents consider online chatting more dangerous than Web surfing. Last year, Microsoft's MSN service shut down its chat rooms in 28 countries partly because of concerns about sexual predators preying on minors. And in a study published by Harris Interactive in November 2003, 24 percent of 550 U.S. teens surveyed said they had been contacted online by a stranger who tried to arrange an off-line meeting.

Meanwhile, the amount of time kids spend online is just as important an issue. A November study performed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that almost 70 percent of young users say they would find it "very hard to give up" the Internet, compared with only 48 percent who said the same about television. Computers have become a hub for social activity. And for the most part, it is an unsupervised environment. Many parents go to sleep every night convinced that their kids are sleeping too, while some of the kids are actually chatting online with friends and strangers. And not surprisingly, some kids are also chatting when they should be doing homework.

The Internet has so much good to offer, however, that you can't just take your kids' access away permanently. It's a great educational resource and an essential form of communication today. And the more your kids learn about using the Internet now, the better prepared they'll be for using it in the future.

Parents need to protect their kids online. Just as they want some control over where their kids go and whom they talk to in real life, parents need to establish some rules on where they go and whom they talk to online. Which strategy is best for your needs is your decision. The good news is that the products on the market offer a variety of approaches, so finding the right solution shouldn't be too difficult.",1759,1620643,00.asp
con·cept: Keep Your Kids Safe