How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online
By Jennifer Martinez
By the time kids reach middle school, they're likely to know as much or more about the Internet than their parents. Teens use the Internet for schoolwork, playing games, email, instant messaging, downloading music, shopping and entering contests. But although they know their way around the Internet, they may lack the judgment and emotional maturity to steer clear of trouble. And teens aren't much better off when it comes to online safety.
Yet, the best defense for tweens and teens has nothing to do with software or high-tech controls. Online safety often comes down to honest and open communication with their parents. If you're concerned about online safety -- as most parents are -- here are some facts and talking tips to use with your kids:
Tweens: The facts
According to a 2006 study by the Zandi Group, three in 10 "tweens" (children ages 8-12) have access to the Internet at home. And here are some statistics about the Internet experiences of tweens from a 2006 study published by the Polly Klaas Foundation:
* 12% of tweens (56% of teens) receive requests for personal information
* 10% of tweens (54% of teens) frequently have private conversations with online strangers through instant messaging
* 5% of tweens (42% of teens) said they have posted personal information online
* 4% of tweens (30% of teens) reported that they have talked with a cyber stranger about meeting in person
* 16% of tweens and teens discovered that someone online was an adult pretending to be much younger
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