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K-5th Grade
5th-7th Grade
Dear Marianne:
I keep reading about "tummy time" for infant play. What is that?
Rachel, Greenville, SC, Mom of Robert (2 weeks)


Keeping 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.

Tips to Take Control

  First, 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:

  • Just 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 fun.

  • Make 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 posted.

  • Make 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.

  • Make sure they also ask your permission and bring you along if they want to meet with any new online friend in person.

  • Make 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 categories.

Support 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

  One example of a kid-safe site is our site, 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 given us:

  • Parental 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.

  • Parental 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.

  • Parental 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.

Finally, KidsCom has developed several kid-friendly icons as part of its Responsible Marketing Program.

  • The 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.

  • The 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 identifiable information.

  The 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.

As 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 and ParentsTalk can be found at

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 and privacy.

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


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