Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Television and the Internet for children

Parents have the right and the responsibility to exercise some control over how much television children watch and what programs they see. Parental control of television is particularly important when children are young but also applies to adolescents. Resist the temptation to use the television as a baby-sitter during the early years and prescreen as many programs as you can during the later years. We have to accept the fact that our youngsters will be drawn to the computer screen and will want to explore the wonders of e-mail and the Internet. However, they must know some of the hard facts about the very real dangers involved. Your children will be excited by the idea of unlimited freedom of expression and seemingly unlimited access to information. Therefore, make sure they know the following:
  • Good manners apply even in cyberspace.
  • E-mail can be retrieved and traced to the sender. Pressing the Delete key doesn’t make e-mail disappear forever, so be sure to review what you’ve written before you click the Send button.
  • You cannot be sure that no record remains of what you download just because you move it from the hard drive to a disk. People have gone to jail on the basis of what experts have been able to retrieve from hard drives their owners thought were clear of incriminating material.
  • Some dangerous creeps live out there in cyberland. A correspondent who claims to be a 15-year-old cheerleader may be a 50-year-old pervert. People must be very wary of agreeing to meet a computer acquaintance in person, and never, ever meet such a person in a private place, such as a home or a secluded park.
  • They will encounter some new and perhaps radical ideas on the Internet about things like drugs, sex, race, God, and Satan. Let them know that the best way to react to an idea they find intriguing or disturbing is to find out more about it and get different slants on it. Talking with parents, clergy, or someone they trust at school is always helpful.

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