Originally created 09/30/03

Book tells parents of Internet dangers



The Internet can be a dangerous place for children despite being a great resource, said Jamie Self, the director of social policy for the Georgia Family Council.

"One in five children using the Internet regularly is approached for sex," Ms. Self said, quoting a study by the Kaiser Foundation.

"That's a really scary statistic," she said, noting that cyberspace also contains easy access to violence, pornography and gambling.

"Most times, parents don't know about these dangers, and they also don't know how to protect their children," Ms. Self said.

To help equip parents, the Georgia Family Council and the Northwestern Mutual Financial Group published A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety, a book for families about Internet usage and safety.

Available free at www.georgiafamily.org or by calling (800) 326-4591, the guide contains information on Internet filters, family-friendly Internet service providers, ways to monitor children in chat rooms, and child-friendly search engines.

Despite the tips provided, Ms. Self said the council feels the most protection still comes from parents.

"There's no substitute for parental involvement," she said. "While we may talk about monitoring software, ultimately it's most important for parents to keep a watch of their kids while they are online."

TIPS FOR INTERNET SAFETY

  • Keep your computer in a visible area, such as a living room or other common area, rather than in a child's bedroom.
  • Choose a family-friendly Internet service provider. A list of family-based providers can be found in the A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety.
  • Consider installing a filter on your home computer. One of the most popular is Cyber Patrol, which is available at www.cyberpatrol.com.
  • Consider installing monitoring software on your computer. It doesn't block sites, but it does allow parents to learn where the computer has been on the Web.
  • When surfing the Web, use search engines such as Yahoo! or Google, which provide ways to screen out potentially harmful materials.
  • Learn all you can about the computer and the Internet.
  • When they are at an appropriate age, teach your children about the dangers associated with the Internet.
  • Be aware of sudden changes in your child's behavior, such as a loss of interest in social activities or a change in sleeping patterns.
  • Make sure your child knows to never share personal information online.
  • Realize that nothing can replace spending quality time with your children.
  • Source: A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety

    Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or kamille.bostick@augustachronicle.com.