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Here's something concrete parents can do: Call a "family meeting" and have a conversation on Internet safety. Below are two family contracts from Safekids.com— one for parents, and another for kids. Go over them together and use them as discussion points and guidelines on safe Web usage. Don't forget to sign the contract!

Parents' pledge
Downloadable version from Safekids.com (PDF)

  1. I will get to know the services and Web sites my child uses. If  I don't know how to use them, I'll get my child to show me how.
  2. I will set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by my children and will discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder. I'll remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time they spend on the computer. 
  3. I will not overreact if my child tells me about a problem he or she is having on the Internet. Instead, we'll work together to try to solve the problem and prevent it from happening again. 
  4. I promise not to use a PC or the Internet as an electronic babysitter.
  5. I will help make the Internet a family activity and ask my child to help plan family events using the Internet.
  6. I will try to get to know my child's "online friends" just as I try get to know his or her other friends.

Kids' pledge
Downloadable version from Safekids.com (PDF)

  1. I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents’ permission.
  2. I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable. 
  3. I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along. 
  4. I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents. 
  5. I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the service provider. 
  6. I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
  7. I will not give out my Internet password to anyone (even my best friends) other than my parents.
  8. I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly hurt our computer or jeopardize my family’s privacy.
  9. I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.
  10. I will help my parents understand how to have fun and learn things online and teach them things about the Internet, computers and other technology. 

Parents' contract courtesy of: Safekids.com. Kids' contract: Items one through six are adapted from the brochure Child Safety on the Information Highway by Lawrence J. Magid. Copyright 1994 and 1998 by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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