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Protecting Your Kids On the Internet

The Internet is a great tool for many things, such as doing research, reading the latest news, shopping and staying in touch with family and friends. To borrow from the title of a Clint Eastwood movie, along with the good comes "the bad and the ugly".

Freedom on the Internet also opens the door for illegal activity, such as emails pretending to be your bank (aka phishing), expression of various ideas 'whether you agree with them or not, scams to separate people from their money and content that some find objectionable, like pornography.

While searching the Internet for homeschool support groups, to ask for permission to list their web site as a resource in HomeSchoolEXPOs' Support Groups & Organizations directory, I became a victim of porn-napping. I didn't know this term existed until I decided to do research for this newsletter. My purpose was to help other parents, who are short on time, learn about what they can do to protect their children who use the Internet.

Porn-napping happens when a non-pornography domain or web site address becomes inactive and it is purchased by a pornography business. The site might have closed down or the owner didn't renew their ownership. Once the pornography business owns the address, they post their content on it. Below is an example of how I was porn-napped.

Let's say there is a homeschool support group called Family Homeschooling. Their web site address is www.familyhomeschooling.com. The group discontinues because all of the children have graduated high school and have gone to college. The parents decide not to renew the ownership of their website address. A pornography business discovers the support groups' web address is available and decides to buy it. Now that they own the address, they post their content under the domain www.familyhomeschooling.com, with no warning of the content that is coming. Another tactic they may employ is something called a re-direct. This happens when you click on or type in a web site address they have purchased, e.g. www.familyhomeschooling.com, and you are re-directed to another site with their content. Re-directing is not illegal. Many web sites use this feature for functions such as load balancing or redirecting users to a sites new web address because it has changed.

My original plan was to write an article about the steps that parents can to protect their children from pornography and pedophiles. While looking for information, I found a couple of good articles and resources that provide great information for parents. Instead of recreating the wheel, I'm providing the following links for parents to learn more about what they can do to protect their kids when their kids are online.

1. 2005 Software Review of Parental Control and Internet Filtering Software
http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/?ttreng=1&ttrkey=internet+filter

2. Home Internet Filters 'Steps Parents Can Take At Home For Filtering Content
http://www.northstar.k12.ak.us/safety/filters.html

3. Parental Control and Internet Child Safety
http://www.protectkids.org/

4. Wired Kids 'Online Safety Project for Kids and Teens
http://www.wiredkids.org/

5. NetSmartz Workshop 'Interactive games and activities to teach kids what to watch for online to protect themselves.
http://www.netsmartz.org/

6. Parents Can Make Internet Safer for Kids 'Article in the Honolulu Advertiser
http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Oct/19/tc/tc08p.html

7. SafeKids 'Making Technology and the Internet safe for Families
http://www.safekids.com/

8. GetNetWize 'The GetNetWise coalition wants Internet users to be only "one click away" from the resources they need to make informed decisions about their family's use of the Internet.
http://kids.getnetwise.org/


About the Author

Aaron Hyde has over 17 years of computer industry experience and is a consultant with the 280Group (http://www.280group.com). He homeschools and is the founder of HomeSchoolExpo, http://www.homeschoolexpo.com. HomeSchoolExpo is a new auction site for connecting homeschoolers who want to buy and sell homeschooling books and resources. HomeSchoolExpo also provides store hosting for family friendly businesses.


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