Educate Yourself


kids in a classroom raising their handsKnow the details of all the sites your children currently visit or would like to visit, and see for yourself what activities are available, and what personal information each site allows children to post in chat rooms, forums, etc.

Many sites require children to register before they can participate in the site’s activities. Visit these sites and find out what personal information (for example, full name, email address, street address, etc.) they require children to submit for registration and whether they allow children to post personal information in forums, chat rooms, etc.

While sites targeted at children under 13 are required (under the Guidelines and COPPA) to post privacy policies, not all do so. If a privacy policy is posted, don’t assume that it reflects the site’s actual practices. Know what has to be listed in a privacy policy: name, address, phone number and email address of the website operator; the types of personal information collected from children; how the information is or may be used by the operator; whether it will be publicly available through a chat room, forum or other means.. See if the site’s policy has all the necessary information.

Under the Guidelines and COPPA, websites are required not only to give you notice of what information your child can disclose online, but also to obtain your permission (“parental consent”) before they collect any personal information from your child.

If you think a site has collected or disclosed information from your kids or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to us at, at the Parent’s Corner.

While it is not always possible to insure that children only visit sites that you have ascertained are safe and secure, do your best-- keeping in mind that children are often more knowledgeable about the use of technology than we are.

If your child uses social networking sites, explore the privacy settings offered by the site, for example, limits on the people with whom your child can interact, and the types of information that can be posted. Some social networking sites allow only pre-written (canned) chat, and make it impossible to share personal information. Even if your child is 13 or older, and not covered by COPPA or CARU’S Guidelines, let them know that you are careful about your own disclosure of personal information on the Internet and encourage them to do the same. Remind them that with greater freedom, comes greater risks and responsibilities.