June 27, 2008

Parents, Monitor the Time Your Child Spends Online: Experts Say Check Up on Them, Don’t Leave Them Alone on Web

By Janet Caggiano, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.

Jun. 27--As the director of Commonwealth Parenting in Henrico County, Liz Pearce helps parents protect their children from possible dangers of Internet surfing.

As the mother of three girls, she understands their fears.

"The reality is that children are learning the ins and outs of the Internet much faster than [parents] can keep up with," Pearce said. "Parents fear their children will tread into unsafe territory where they can't protect them."

She encourages parents to get an account on MySpace so they can see what their children see.

"You have to jump in," she said.

According to the Nielsen Company, kids consume more video streams than those over 18 and spend more time watching online video from home. Children 2 to 11 viewed an average of 51 streams and 118 minutes of online video per person in April, while those 12 to 17 viewed an average of 74 streams and 132 minutes of online video.

Those older than 18 viewed an average of 44 streams and 99 minutes of online video.

"The Web provides another platform for their interest in TV shows, toys, movies and music, and offers an interactive element that children especially enjoy," said Michael Pond, senior media analyst for Nielsen Online.

But parents don't like the idea of their children browsing chat rooms or Web sites targeted for an older audience.

Internet filter software helps parents control content displayed, block Web sites and set up passwords. E-mail filtering, popup blocking and chat room monitoring are just some of the tools available with today's software, but the best defense, Pearce said, is parental control.

"You must check up on your kids," Pearce said. "Just as you wouldn't take your 9-year-old to the mall and leave him there alone for four hours, you shouldn't leave your 9-year-old alone on the Internet for four hours." Contact Janet Caggiano at (804) 649-6157 or [email protected]


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