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Surf Safely

May 21, 2009

With the rise in Internet predators and sexting, and the increase in potential contacts during the summer months, parents may be considering taking bigger steps to keep their children safe in cyberspace.

One option is installing monitoring software, such as PC Pandora, which actually records everything written or received on the computer in a transcript the parent can check daily.

Parents can check the appropriateness of the content and be on the lookout for cyberbullying.

"The bottom line is that parents need to have complete awareness. They really have no knowledge of what kids are doing online out of fear of violating their child's privacy," said Pandora spokesman Ken Shallcross.

Liz Perle, editor-in-chief of CommonSense Media, says checking kids' text messages is a judgement call each parent has to make.

"It depends on your kids' ages, personalities and behaviors. You can always ask to see their messages. If your kids recoil in horror, ask why they don't want you to see them."

The most important thing, Perle said, "is that you tell your kids your family's rules for what is and isn't acceptable text behavior. Remind them that any text can be forwarded to an unintended audience - and texts that involve drugs, sex or other illegal things can get kids into real legal trouble."



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