Libraries and the Internet Toolkit
Tips for Parents
The following tips can be reproduced or edited for your library. Print them on flyers or bookmarks and distribute during Internet training classes, back-to-school nights, library open houses and other events.
- Make time to learn about the Internet and how it works. Every computer with Internet access has search engines designed specifically for children that lead to sites selected especially for kids. It's important to become familiar with the Internet so you can use this medium with your children. Many schools and libraries offer classes that teach how to guide your children on the Internet.
- Set rules and instill values. Until children are taught how to use the Internet properly, which includes how to conduct a search, how to know the difference between an Internet pal and an unsavory stranger, how to protect private information, and so forth, it would be best if their Internet use were supervised by a responsible adult or guided by for-children Web pages. There are many common sense tips that can ensure children have a positive online experience:
- Children should be taught not to give personal information, such as their names and addresses, to strangers online as well as off. They must agree not to meet someone they meet online without a parent or guardian present. Teach your children to value privacy—theirs and yours.
- Teach your children values and guidelines to use in selecting what they read and view. Not every Web site is right for every child, anymore than every book in the library is suitable for every person. It's up to you to let your children know what subjects and Web sites are off limits and to explain why.
- Encourage your child to ask the librarian for help when seeking information on the Internet.
- For an example of how to set rules and values with your children, see GetNetWise's "Make an Internet Use Agreement with Your Child" (http://www.getnetwise.org/tools/toolscontracts.php).
- Check out "Especially for Young People and their Parents" at http://www.ala.org/oif/youngpeople/children. This page includes links to online safety rules and suggestions and great sites for parents and kids.
- As the National Research Council pointed out in its 2002 report, "Youth, Pornography, and the Internet" (http://books.nap.edu/html/youth_internet/), "Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks, put up fences, and deploy pool alarms. All these measures are helpful, but by far the most important thing that one can do for one's children is to teach them to swim." Similarly, children taught to use the Internet wisely and effectively will be more capable of traversing the Internet than those relying solely on technology.
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This document was last updated December 1, 2003
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