POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 131 Many parents are anxious about introducing the Internet into their homes. Children have always been the heaviest users of electronic media and it is inevitable they will be drawn to this exciting new medium. Because of safety and privacy concerns however, parents must take an active role in guiding their children as they explore this new world. Government and industry are working to make the Internet a safer place for children – implementing "codes of conduct" for online marketing and the protection of privacy, developing rating systems for web sites and creating better blocking software. Parents however, remain the best line of defense in protecting their children and making Net surfing a safe and enjoyable experience. Getting started • Become web-literate so you can direct your children's online experiences. Even if you've never surfed the web before, (and still think Java refers to coffee!), it doesn't take long to feel at ease on the Internet. • Try to keep up-to-date on web issues by reading the technology section of your newspaper. New technologies present new challenges for parents. • Focus on the positive aspects of the Internet. You wouldn't take your children to a library and start off by telling them where they shouldn't go – instead you would point them in the direction of books that will interest them. Approach the Internet in the same way. Direct your children to sites where they can learn and share common interests with peers, and roam safely under your supervision. Online marketing aimed at children Advertisers have discovered that the unregulated Internet is an ideal vehicle for marketing to children. Interactive advertising sites, disguised as children's entertainment, are proliferating on the World Wide Web. Some marketers are using these sites to track children's online computer use and gather personal information. Many sites prompt children to fill out forms or questionnaires so they can join a club or win a prize. To protect your children's privacy, make sure they always check with you before giving any personal information over the Internet. Using chatrooms, newsgroups and email One of the Internet's greatest attractions for children, especially teens, is its interactivity. Making friends all over the world is exciting and a wonderful use of the Net. Keep in mind, however, that "chatmates" are not always who they claim to be. The anonymity of online correspondence makes it easy for people to misrepresent themselves. • Make sure your children always use a nickname and don't reveal personal information online until you are sure of the identity of the recipient. • If your children have passwords they use on the Internet, make sure they never reveal them to anyone. • Consider using "filtering" software which can block access to newsgroups containing objectionable words or phrases. (See Protecting children from hateful or obscene material for more information on filtering software) • If your children receive an offensive message or junk email, send copies (including the sender's email address) to your service provider. • Parental involvement is the key to safe surfing, so keep your computer in a well-used area. Even when you can't be right beside your children, you will still be able to keep an eye on their online activities. Protecting children from hateful or obscene material There are a variety of technologies available to help parents restrict access to objectionable or obscene material on the Internet. • Stand-alone Filtering Software: Similar to V-chip technology for television, "filtering" software is designed to block Web sites, newsgroups, chat rooms, and e-mail which contain Managing the Internet (continued...)