Unfortunately, news reporters seem to know very little
about violent video games or the Internet, because they keep delivering the same basic story:
the Internet is bad, video games are bad. But they don't seem to understand
that the Internet can be very safe, with the proper precautions
Internet is NOT television. The Internet is more like a city street;
there are many shady people that would love to take your child's
money, or worse. Many children are trusting of strangers, and children
are always influenced by new ideas -- how can you police their interactions
so you make sure that they're not conversing with a maniac?
In this article you'll find out:
• How Do I Know
If the Internet is safe for kids
to protect your child from shady characters
to block them from visiting inappropriate sites
skinny on violence on the Internet and in video games
• Hate Sites
• Chat Rooms
• Is the Internet SAFE
• Childrens personal information
• Child's favourite web sites
• Personal meetings
• Make the PC a family tool
• Guard your child's e-mail
• Blocking and Filtering Software
• Violence in Video Games
• The Verdict
• Other Software
Do I Know?
of my teen years were spent in front of a computer -- even in the
days before the Internet, a teenager could use a PC and modem to
access all kinds of information. Remember the movie "WarGames"?
Well, I wasn't that bad, but I was amazed at what a kid could see
and do, all without regard for age. Fortunately,
my parents had instilled some taste and common sense into my brain,
so I managed to avoid the truly tasteless things I suddenly had
free access to.
same went for video games. Frankly, I enjoy some of the violent video games
-- some of them are fun, others not. However, these graphically violent
games did not exist when I was younger. The early Atari, Commadore and Nintendo
games I played were wholesome fun.
my experiences have taught me anything, it is that a child with
a computer can have virtually limitless access to all kinds of vulgar
material, whether it be violent or pornographic. But this same child
also has access to a wealth of information to advance their intelligence,
and after all, that knowledge has helped me to a successful career
and also to start this web site.
On search engines like Yahoo and Altavista, the top five words most
commonly searched for are pornographic in nature. That statistic
alone shows you how much pornographic material is open to the public,
even minors. There are literally hundreds of thousands of web
sites that are devoted to pornography.
are laws that require these sites to determine if the viewer is
over 18 years of age, so the law-abiding sites will require a credit
card check. However, many pornographic sites are hosted outside
of the United States, thus avoiding the law and providing extremely
graphic material to anyone who ventures to their web page. Even
worse, some sites use trickery to induce new members to their pornography
pages: a child who mistakenly enters www.whitehouse.com instead
of the real address, www.whitehouse.gov
will get an eyeful of XXX-rated material.
Nazis, the KKK, Black Supremacists: they're all on the Internet,
and they would love to recruit your child as a new member. The Internet
is an excellent forum for disgruntled people to voice their views
without debate -- they just put up a web page. You need to make
sure your kids aren't unduly influenced by these monsters.
The majority of chat rooms are great, filled with reasonable people
who interested in chatting about normal subjects. However, some
chat rooms are filled with pedophiles. These monsters might claim
to be a 12-year old girl, and your child may believe them since
they have no way of knowing whether their new friend is a young
girl or perverted old man.
of this chatter. Is the Internet SAFE?
years of experience say Yes. It all comes down to guidance and
supervision. Think of the Internet as a city street. You wouldn't
let your child walk unattended into the seedy section of the city,
would you? Young children should be with their parents at all times
in the city, and the same goes for the Internet. At the very least,
you should be aware what neighborhoods your child wanders in to.
Never let your children give out personal information
should not divulge their name, phone number, or street address to
ANYONE they meet online. Make it a family rule. Also, make sure
that you do not give them an e-mail address that resembles their
full name, i.e. email@example.com
Know your child's favourite web sites!
is VERY important. If you don't know what sites they are visiting,
find out. Surf along with them, offer advice. Talk about any information
that confuses them. Let them know what kind of material you find
inappropriate and impermissible for them to see.
Never allow personal meetings
meetings between two people who meet on the Internet is NEVER good.
When one is a child, disaster usually strikes. Disallow all personal
meetings. Remember, it is very easy for a 40-year old pedophile
to masquerade as a young child for long periods of time. If your
child is developing a wonderful friendship with an online persona,
insist that the friendship move to the telephone, and have a talk
with the other child's parents.
Make the PC a family tool
promote family use of the PC and the Internet, consider keeping
the computer in the family room. If the computer resides in a child's
bedroom, they will have more privacy to explore inappropriate materials
online. A family room keeps family interaction and supervision at
Guard your child's e-mail
can be extremely vulnerable through e-mail. The first rule is to
never reply to obscene or threatening e-mail messages. By ignoring
these people and deleting the e-mail they send you, you are effectively
cutting off all communication with them. If you reply, they will
just send you more junk.
you have a young child, share the e-mail account with them. Monitor
their mail and make sure you know who they're communicating with.
Use Blocking and Filtering Software
is software you can buy that will help you protect your children.
One type is Web-blocking software, which works with your current
web browser to block out sites that are deemed inappropriate for
children. The list of inappropriate sites is updated constantly
by the software company, so there is minimal effort that needs to
be put in by the parent. However, this is no substitute for surfing
the Internet WITH your child.
software works with your e-mail software to filter out any messages
from "unauthorized" people. For instance, you can authorize
family and friends to send e-mail to your child, and anyone else
who tries will get their e-mail bounced back to them.
the Related Links section at the end of the article for links to
vendors of these programs.
Online provides special parental controls that can be set to block
your child from certain online areas. Go to keyword: "parental
controls" to learn more.
in Video Games
recent TV coverage, the news media often showed video footage from
the video game "Doom". While "Doom" is a valid
example of how games have become violent, the game itself is quite
old in video game years. It's comparable to holding up "Jaws"
as an example of today's violent films.
Other violent video games far exceeds the violence
in Doom. There are publicly available games where you score points
by running over civilians with your car (Carmageddon/Carmageddon
2), extorting money and harassing small business owners (Gangsters),
and even by killing innocent civilians execution-style (Postal).
Some games will let you chop off people's limbs and beat them with
games are disgusting, and I wouldn't let my child anywhere near
them. It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to exercise
control over what games your kids are playing. Check the hard
drives of the computer your child is using for violent-sounding
games. Look at the game magazines your kids subscribe to: you'd
be amazed at the sex and violence marketed to kids within those
video games also adhere to a rating system, but it is still very
easy for young kids to buy these games without any interference
from vendors whose only interest is the almighty dollar. Watch what
they buy, watch what they play. There are plenty of great games
out there that don't involve ANY overly-graphic violence (sports
games, flight games, puzzle games, etc).
Internet is going to be a BIG part of your kids' lives. They're
going to learn about it quickly and they will absorb the information
they find even more quickly. It is a parent's responsibility to
understand what their children are doing online. We at Rookies will
try to help in whatever way we can and provide new information when
it becomes available.
Happy and safe surfing