The Internet is a global network of
interconnected computers. It has approximately 10 million host
computers and more than 45 million people are currently using
the Internet. More than 5 million children in the United
States have access to the Internet. Many of the children
accessing "cyberspace" are far more computer-savvy
than their parents; therefore, it is difficult for parents to
protect their children. Two of the largest problems facing
parents is how to control access to violent or pornographic
material and how to protect personal family information.
Direct parental supervision is the most
effective means of addressing the problems presented by
children using the Internet. Unfortunately, parents cannot
always supervise their children's Internet use; however, they
can benefit from parental control software. This software can
- Allow Internet access only to
predetermined sites or to sites with predetermined
- Help keep children from sending out
personal information online;
- Provide a report of places your children
visit online; and
- Allow Internet access only at certain
times of the day.
In addition, few parents realize how many
companies track every Internet site a user visits. This data
is often stored on your hard drive in file commonly referred
to as a "cookie". This information is then used to
create a profile of your interests. In order to get more
detailed information, children are asked personal questions
about their families and interests. Often sensitive
information such as parent's maiden names and occupations are
given out by unsuspecting children.
There are Internet sites that can search the
contents of your computer's hard drive. These sites search for
social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account
numbers as well as other private information.
If you use the Netscape Navigator 3.0 or
Internet Explorer 3.0 Web browser, you can delete your cookie
file. Search the hard drive for a file name containing the
word "cookie" and verify that it contains the word
"double-click" before deleting it. If you do this
you may lose some settings, such as web site passwords. To
prevent the cookie file from being recreated, choose the menu
option in your browser that asks your permission every time
someone tries to modify your cookie file.
Some elect to install software that protects
your "cookie" file. Mac OS users
can download a free version of Cookie Cutter at http://www.shareware.com.
Windows users should check http://www.pgp.comfor
the status of PGPcookiecutter.com.
For more information on parent control
software, parents can contact these companies:
There are many other programs out there
similar to these that will help you keep violent and
pornographic images from your children while they are using
the Internet. These are just some examples that our office
found in our research and are not necessarily considered any
better than other available programs.