Kids Safe Online
A Parent's Guide
to Internet Privacy
by Jorian Clarke, President
Circle 1 Network
You bought the computer to pay bills,
but your kids spend more time using it than you do.
In fact, many of us are struggling to figure out e-mail
while our kids are surfing the Net with ease, downloading
files and setting up their own Web pages.
Get used to it, Mom and Dad.
Kids are spending more and more time online.
While kids may adapt to Internet technology more easily
than their parents, they don't always understand how
to find the rich selection of kid-appropriate content,
and instead stumble into sites with content geared
for adults. Many parents are concerned about what
their kids are encountering on the Internet and how
to keep them safe. You can take steps to make your
kids more savvy about Web site content and can use
your computer's bookmark function to build a list
of family approved, kid-engaging sites.
to Take Control
stay involved. The best way to find out where your
kids are going online is to go with them. Parental
involvement is the most important factor in keeping
kids safe online. Put the computer in the family room
and regularly surf with them. Capitalize on your kids'
natural inclination to show off their new online skills
and have them show you their favorite Web sites. Talk
about what you find out there. Not only will you know
what they're doing, but you may pick up a few pointers.
Second, take some time to become more
Internet savvy. Your kids probably can teach you a
few tricks, but there are sites where you can learn
for yourself. Try going to your favorite search engine
(or your browser's search function) and type "Internet
tutorial." You will find a vast number of online
resources to help you learn the ropes. If that isn't
enough, take a class. Many high schools, community
centers and computer stores offer basic classes. The
more you know, the more comfortable you will be. In
addition, you will know how to safely surf the Net.
Third, build a list of family-approved
sites and mark them so you and your kids can come
back to those sites over and over again. In Netscape,
go to "Add a Bookmark" to mark your sites,
and in Explorer, go to "Add to Favorites"
to include a site on your list. Then, every time your
kids want to spend time online, you can send them
to sites pre-qualified by you on your Favorites or
Bookmarks list. Exploratory surfing for new sites
can be a fun family experience if done together.
Finally, set down some rules. Kids need
to have limits online as well as in other activities.
Some basics include:
like you might do with television, limit the amount
of time your kids spend on the Internet each day.
Make sure some of those bookmarked sites have content
that includes offline activities as well as online
sure they ask your permission before giving out
personal information such as name, screen names,
e-mail addresses, birthday, etc. Emphasize that
this rule is in effect when registering for a site,
posting on a message board, talking in a chat room,
or submitting any pictures, stories or other information
that may be accessible to the public. If you're
not sure if something could be accessible, look
for the privacy statement or a parents' page where
their data collection procedures are explained.
If a site doesn't describe their practices, don't
let your kids give out information.
Look for a heading on the home page that says "Privacy
Policy," "Note to Parents" or something
similar. This should outline what kind of information
the site collects about children, how the information
is used, and how the site obtains parental permission
to gather the information. Beware of any site that
doesn't have a clearly understandable policy prominently
sure your kids understand that passwords are secret.
Let them know they are as important as house keys
not something to be given to just anyone.
They should never give out passwords to anyone but
you, or any adult you specify.
sure they also ask your permission and bring you
along if they want to meet with any new online friend
sure they show you or another responsible adult
such as a teacher if they get an e-mail that is
threatening, upsetting or strange. They should never
reply to an e-mail that falls into any of these
for Parents from the Industry
Online industry groups such as the Better
Business Bureau have worked with children's Web site
development companies to formulate guidelines to guard
children's privacy and educate parents on the Internet.
The BBB's privacy guidelines can be found online at
Additionally, the Children's Online Privacy Protection
Act (COPPA) was introduced to the industry in April
2000. COPPA was created to ensure the privacy and
safety of kids online. COPPA guidelines can be found
online at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/kidzprivacy/.
One example of a kid-safe site is our
site, KidsCom.com. Established in 1995, KidsCom®
is a community of educational, entertaining and age-specific
electronic playgrounds for kids ages 4 to 15. The
site gives kids a voice to the world and to each other
around the world through a variety of engaging online
and offline activities.
Responsible Web sites will notify parents
when kids share personal information, and will explain
to parents exactly how that personal information is
used. KidsCom has developed several solutions to make
sure parents are aware of the information kids have
notification every time a child registers
with KidsCom to post content on the site, join in
the Find a Key Pal program or earn KidsKash Points,
an e-mail is sent to their parent's e-mail address
informing the parents of the registration and explaining
the goals of KidsCom. Parents can request at any
time that the registration be removed.
permission to participate in KidsCom's International
Find a Key Pal program, children must obtain a signed
permission form from their parents. The parents
must mail or fax us the signed Find a Key Pal Permission
Form to help ensure that parents are aware their
child's e-mail address may be provided to children
with similar interests.
involvement children are repeatedly encouraged
throughout the site to involve and inform their
parents before they write any content that may be
posted on the site or provide any information.
KidsCom has developed several kid-friendly icons as
part of its Responsible Marketing Program.
Ad Bug clearly draws the line between the
advertising and content on our site. The character
appears next to banner ads so kids know exactly
what they are looking at. In addition, The Ad Bug
also appears in a graphic box next to any commercial
information on our site that kids can click on to
learn more about the Ad Bug. The Ad Bug is introduced
on the KidsCom home page and appears everywhere
there is advertising.
Kidbe Safe character appears in areas where
our site requests personal information from kids,
such as surveys or registration forms, and lets
kids click to better understand what online privacy
means. It lets parents know the site follows industry
guidelines for the responsible collection of personally
Internet is constantly changing, and it can be difficult
to keep up. However, there are many kid safe sites
and sites with helpful information for parents to
help you keep your kids safe online.
founder and president of Circle 1 Network, Jorian
Clarke is responsible for the company's vision of
creating and maintaining safe online communities for
kids, young adults and parents.
Under her leadership, the company's flagship site,
KidsCom®, has grown into one of most popular and
longest-running sites on the Internet for children.
KidsCom and Circle 1 Network's site for parents, ParentsTalk,
welcome kids and families from more than 120 countries
around the world. KidsCom can be found at http://www.KidsCom.com
and ParentsTalk can be found at http://www.parents-talk.com.
Jorian has been featured on numerous television and
radio shows, including National Public Radio's "Morning
Edition," "All Things Considered" and
"Horizons," ABC's "Good Morning America,"
the Fox News Channel, CNN, C|net and Canada's Prime
Network. In addition, her companies have been spotlighted
in many publications, including Advertising Age, USA
Today, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Investors
Business Daily and Web Week. Jorian appears weekly
as the resident Internet expert for the top-rated
NBC affiliate in Milwaukee and frequently speaks at
conferences and seminars in North America and Europe.
She was the recipient of the Federal Small Business
Administration's 1999 Small Business Person of the
Year Award for the state of Wisconsin. She also has
been involved in setting directions in the industry
in talks by invitation for the U.S. Commerce Department
and the Federal Trade Commission on Internet safety
Prior to forming Circle 1 Network and its sister company,
SpectraCom (an interactive marketing agency), Jorian
worked in advertising, corporate identity and market
research. She earned her bachelor's of arts degree
in sociology through the University of Wisconsin