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The Golden Rules for Cyber Ethics

By Jennifer Martinez

Many parents are worried about what their kids are doing online -- and whether in the process they're breaking offline rules.

That said, acceptable behavior on the Internet is very much the same as acceptable behavior in everyday life offline. For instance, at an early age, children learn what it means to be honest and to respect the rights and property of others. On the Internet, the same basic rules apply. And cyber ethics are just like the offline rules parents establish for their kids.

Here are some helpful dos and don'ts you can use to coach your kids about following a cyber ethics code of conduct when surfing the web or using the Internet for research or entertainment:

1. Do use the Internet to help with schoolwork The Internet is the world's largest library. You can find information on almost any subject from science, math and technology to language, art, history, current events and more. When using online information, photos and other materials for your homework or research projects, make sure that you identify the sources of the information in footnotes just as you would if you used library books to get the same information.

2. Don't copy information from the Internet and call it your own Sometimes it's tempting to copy information from the Internet to complete a school assignment and to present the ideas, facts or writing as your own. However, this is called plagiarism and it's dishonest. Plagiarism is just like stealing someone else's jacket and calling it your own. And plagiarism can be illegal. Much of the information, pictures and other materials on the Internet are copyrighted, which means it legally belongs to someone else. If you take information or copy it without permission, or without identifying the source in a footnote in a school report, you are breaking the law.
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