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Internet Safety


Internet Porn Nightmares

The Internet is full of shady characters soliciting pornography. Without some sort of protection like a computer monitoring or blocking program, online sexually explicit material is everywhere. It can easily find it's way to your, or your child's computer screen even if you were not actively looking for it. Realizing that the online porn industry is one of the few "Dot Coms" that are surviving and making money, over $1 Billion a year from adults that pay for content, it's no wonder that the material Is everywhere. The industry will try every marketing and/or email scheme ever known or unknown to get you to come to their site and spend a few dollars. Here is an example. Your son needs to do some research on President Bush. The best place to start would be www.whitehouse.gov . But what if he didn't know that the extension was .gov, what if he typed in .com? For years, the .com address was an adult site. It seems to have changed hands but it is still a classic example of how kids could accidentally come across the undesirable sites on the Internet. There are still way too many sites out there that are not fit for the average person, let alone our children. How do we protect ourselves from these characters, how do we protect our kids on the Internet?

We could call the Internet police but there are no laws that work. If these shady characters were walking the streets handing out pornography, they would be arrested for their behavior. There is very little protection against these characters on the Internet. Laws have been tried. Laws have been overturned. Over the last six years, Congress has made many attempts to regulate porn on the Internet. The result is a bewildering assortment of laws that, at least in theory, protect children from material that some communities consider unsuitable.

Pornography is so prevailant on the Internet that it is difficult to search for anything without some of the results linking to undesirable material. Your kids could be innocently searching for something and come across some very explicit images.

The problem exists. The problem is real. According to a survey done by the National Academies, one in four children reported at least one unwanted exposure to sexually explicit pictures on the Internet during the past year, and one out of five reported that they had received a sexual solicitation. The scary part is the fact that the majority of children won't tell their parents about what they have seen for fear of the computer being taken away. One out of every four or five children have been exposed to something sexual in nature while on the Internet, can we let this go on? What can be done to stop it?

You need to protect your children from pornography.

That brings up another question, what about your spouse or employees that might see this material and are interested in it. Will they, or are they, spending more time online than with you or spending more time online than doing their job? Do you really know what they are doing? Do you care? There are definite warning signs that someone has a problem or infatuation with pornography on the Internet. Keep your eyes open for any signs of a problem.

The government says that it is the parents' responsibility to make sure their kids are OK when they are online, and to choose what their children can and can't do in cyberspace. How does that make you feel? Do you know how to keep an eye on your child online? As parents, you have every right to know what they are doing. You really need to know what they are doing.

We don't want to cut off the Internet completely because it is a vast resource of information and recreation when it is used right. The computer does have a history button that allows you to see what web sites have been visited in the last few weeks. The history button is limited because it only shows the web sites that have been browsed, it doesn't show what has been typed on the keyboard. Another drawback - Internet savvy kids can clear the history.

The best method of protection is to use a monitoring program and combine it with as much supervision as possible. There are a number of different monitoring and filtering programs available that can help keep your children safe from the explicit material on the Internet. They have all been intensely tested and evaluated and the general consensus is that none of them are foolproof but a computer monitoring or filtering program can help immensely to keep your kids safe on the Internet.

Just remember that no computer monitoring program can replace the relationship that you have with your children but it is a giant step towards keeping your children safe on the Internet. Other steps you can take towards Internet safety is to spend time with your child on the computer. Put the computer in a place that can easily be accessed by the entire family.

Have your family use a friendly search page that filters out unwanted material. Use the Internet with your child to play games, plan for a family vacation or learn about new places and people. Ask your child to teach you more about the computer and to show you certain tricks he or she may have learned. Not only will you gain knowledge, you will also get valuable information about just how much your child knows about the computer. Make sure to ask your child what he or she likes on the Internet and to show you their favorite sites. The Internet will probably never be "kid safe."

There are certain places where kids should not be unsupervised; bars, nightclubs, construction zones, the middle of a busy superhighway and the middle of the busy Internet. Don't let the Internet become a nightmare.

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