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It's Noon in Cyberspace. Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?

By Robin Raskin
Worried about what your kids are doing online? We've got 15 rules for kids - and parents - to follow to make sure your kids stay safe while using the Internet.

1. Personal information stays personal. Teach kids not to share passwords or give up information.

2. Make sure your child doesn't spend all of his or her time on the computer.

3. For younger kids (pre 7th-grade), try to keep the computer in a shared family space. For older kids who need to work in their own space make sure you pop your head in often and see what they're up to.

4. Learn about computers so you can enjoy them together with your kids.

5. Talk to your kids about where they go online and ask them to show you things.

6. Make sure that your children feel comfortable coming to you in the event that there's an online problem. If they worry that you'll take away their computers or blame them for causing trouble they won't come to you until its too late.

7. Keep kids out of chatrooms or IRCs unless they are monitored.

8. Have them sign an acceptable use policy and let them know they'll lose computer privileges if they abuse rules.

9. Help them find a balance between computing and other activities.

10. Know their online friends, buddies, and who they email. Know the sites they frequent.

11. Warn them that things said on the Internet take on a life of their own and travel very quickly.

12. Warn them not to take on roles and personae like "I'm a 12 year old boy named Billy" when they're not.

13. Warn them to be suspicious of people they don't know who lure them into a conversation and ask too many details.

14. Own the master account with your online service. As the master account holder you can use the parental control tools that are part of most services.

15. Know what they do at their friends' houses, especially on the Internet.

About the Author
Robin Raskin, the former Editor in Chief of FamilyPC, is an Internet safety authority and a writer who speaks to parents and teachers across the country about raising digital kids. Her newest book, A Parent’s Guide to College Life is being published this month by Random House.

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