Besides filters, what are some other ways that adults, especially parents, can protect children from the dangerous aspects of the Internet?
The first and most important step is to help children understand that online hate exists. At the same time, help children recognize that as much as responsible citizens may abhor the fact that hate groups and hateful individuals use this medium to spread messages of bias, hatred, and disharmony, the U.S. Constitution protects their right to do so. This is an important lesson in democratic values. By no means do fair-minded people condone hate behavior, but this must be weighed against the importance of protecting free speech. Help children develop the critical thinking skills necessary to counter all of the hateful things that they will see and hear -- on the Internet as well as in other media -- with accurate knowledge and a commitment to respecting all people. Additional recommendations for helping children safely navigate the Internet include the following:
- Talk with children about the dangers of the Internet before they begin using it.
- Tell children that not all of the information on the World Wide Web is accurate.
- Stress the importance of not revealing personal information to strangers over the Internet.
- Place computers in common areas so that what is on the screen can be easily seen by adults.
- Set clear rules and limits for Internet use.
- Carefully monitor children's use of chat rooms.
- Talk to children about their experiences on the Internet; ask them about sites that they are visiting for schoolwork or for personal enjoyment.
- Encourage children to ask questions about what they see on the Internet.
- Participate in children's Internet explorations by visiting and discussing Web sites together.
- Expose children to Internet sites that enable them to create, to design, to invent, and to collaborate with children in other communities in ways that contribute to society in positive ways.
- Become familiar with basic Internet technologies and keep up to date on the topic by reading resource publications.