The increasing number of virtual worlds, in which users can communicate through instant messaging, chat boxes, private messaging, or message boards, makes use of the Internet more and more interactive. While adults may realize that the Internet can allow many more people than they intend to see what they post, this is a hard concept for children to comprehend.
The Law on Privacy
Federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, (often referred to as COPPA), and CARU’s self-regulatory guidelines on privacy protection (commonly referred to as the Guidelines) aim to limit the collection of personal information from children under 13, and require parental consent before a website operator can collect personal information from or allow the posting of that information by children. Remember, however, that neither COPPA nor the Guidelines can take the place of attentive parents who communicate effectively with their children.
Talk to Your Kids
The most important thing that parents can do to keep their children safe on the Internet is to talk to them about it. Explain, in a way that your child will understand (but that will not scare them), that use of the Internet, in addition to offering information and socializing, can be a source of potential harm. Explain the precautions offering information and socializing, can be a source of potential harm. Explain the precautions that you take when posting words, pictures, or films online. Remind them that once something is online, it can be used by anyone who sees it. Discuss the websites they currently visit or those they wish to join and let them know you want them to be even more careful.