The following are resources you can use to keep your kids safe without restricting their desire to explore the internet.
Basic Cybersafety Tips for Parents and Guardians
Regardless of whether you look at the resources available to you on the right, you should make sure that you know and understand what your children do online and communicate often with them about their activities and monitor their usage. The booklet "A Parent's Guide to Cyber Safety: What Every Parent Should Know" outlines 10 tips that will help you understand the world your children now live in.
1. Learn all you can about the Internet. Become familiar with today's most popular social networking sites and terms. For younger children, find and mark sites for them to visit, perhaps with you.
2. Talk to your children about the Internet and the importance of being safe online. (See suggestions of what to say in the "Talking To Your Kids" link on the right.) Assure your children that you trust them on the Internet, and that whatever rules you set are for their safety.
3. Put the computer in an open area of your home, such as the living room or kitchen. This will make it easier to monitor activity than if the computer is in your children's room.
4. Become familiar with parental control programs. These programs can filter or block content that is inappropriate for your children. (See "Parental Control" link on the right.)
5. Monitor your children's Internet Use. This includes maintaining access to their e-mail accounts, chat-room activities and any social networks they are on.
6. Have your children show you what they know how to do online, as well as their favorite sites.
7. Get to know your children's online friends.
8. Set up and/or learn all of your children's passwords and screen names/usernames (aka: Avitars). Make sure screen names don't reveal information about your children's real names, addresses, school or age. Keep a record of them, by using a form found under the "Parental Control" link on the right.
9. Spend time online together until you are assured that your children understand the potential dangers and how to handle difficult situations.
10. "Google" your children. In other words, search Google for your children's names n the Internet. Look at profiles and any postings about them.
A great article about children's usage and the Internet:
Wall Street Journal Article: "Tweens' Secret Lives Online: Social Media Sites Have a Growth Spurt; Trying to Avoid Mom on Facebook"