Are Your Kids Spending Too Much Time Online?

(Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)
In the latest entry to his PC Answer column, CBSNews.com's Larry Magid says that having the kids home for the Summer is a mixed blessing. He warns that instead of spending the warm Summer months outsides, kids are tempted to spend much of their newfound free time surfing the Internet.

So what's a parent to do? Larry has a few suggestions:

The vast majority of U.S. homes with children now have a broadband connection, which means it's easy for kids to go online to check and update their profiles on MySpace, Facebook and other social networks or to surf the web and exchange instant messages with friends. There is nothing wrong with any of these activities as long as they're done in moderation and with reasonable safety guidelines. To that end, kids should be reminded to:

  • Be careful what they post: Avoid posting provocative or sexually suggestive photos, avoid personal information that could allow a stranger to contact them, as well as anything that could prove embarrassing now or in the future.
  • Mind their manners: Kids should be reminded to treat others online respectfully. It turns out that kids who harass others are also more likely to be victims of cyberbullying.
  • Don't talk about sex with strangers: I know this seems obvious but research at the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center has found a strong correlation between this activity and reports of victimization.
  • And, of course, children should be reminded not to get together with strangers they meet online. If such a meeting is to take place, it should be in a public place and you should bring others along such as a parent or a group of friends.

  • Click here to read Larry's column. Larry also has a good on the subject.