As an educational tool, the Internet offers users the ability to learn about virtually any topic. Children in particular are eager to explore this new world and the relationships it brings.
Although our youth can get a lot of benefit from being on line, the World Wide Web is not without risks. Parents should be aware of this and not view the Internet as simply a benign, entertainment medium.
The fact that crimes are being committed on-line should not make you avoid using Internet services. A better strategy would be to ensure your children learn how to safeguard themselves from the potential dangers that lurk on the Internet.
Children need parental guidance, supervision and common-sense advice on how to make their experiences in "cyberspace" happy, healthy and productive.
As a parent, you first need to understand the nature of on-line systems.
The Internet, a global "network of networks," is not governed by any authority. There are no limits or checks on the kind of information that is maintained by, and accessible to, Internet users.
On-line services are maintained by commercial, self-regulated businesses that may screen or provide editorial/user controls, when possible, of the material contained on their systems.
Computer bulletin boards, called BBS systems, can be operated by individuals, businesses or organizations. The material they contain is usually theme oriented offering information on hobbies and interests. While there are BBS systems that feature "adult" material, most attempt to limit minors from accessing the information.
On-line services, computer bulletin boards and networks are made up of many different people and interests. Like society in general, most are good and decent people; some, however, are rude, obnoxious or have criminal intent. These services cover subjects from education, entertainment and religion to anarchy, pornography and pedophilia.
To understand the full benefits of these systems and alert you to any potential problems that may occur with their use, talk with other users in your area, become familiar with literature on these systems and get on-line yourself.