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Bridging The Techno-Gap

There is a new generation gap in American families, according to a CBS News poll out this week.

Nearly seven in 10 parents say that when it comes to the Internet, kids know more than they do.

But, as CBS News Correspondent Russ Mitchell reports, there are ways to bridge this "techno-gap" and some of the solutions aren't high tech at all.

"The big problem with the technology gap between parents and kids is that the new technology is about information," observes Brian Schwartz, who works at Intel.

"This is the first time that kids have more information than their parents do, not just information about the computer, but information about the world," he says.

Schwartz, who works for the computer chip manufacturer in Chandler, Ariz., knows that some of that information has scared adults. So he's started giving talks at the local Boys & Girls Club as a volunteer to try to close the gap that has left a lot of parents feeling powerless.

"What happened at Littleton illustrated to many parents that have computers in their homes that there is information out there that their kids can get in three clicks of the mouse," he says.

"If you are talking about computers, heck I'd pretty much say teens rule on computers vs. parents," says 17-year-old Estevan Varelas.

And when it comes to the Internet, Varelas places his mother Susie Rubi "like on a zero on a Richter scale, between 1 and 10," he says. And Rubi even uses a computer at work.

"Our parents had to worry about the real world - where we were going and hanging out with at the playground and what we were doing at the mall," notes Schwartz.

"We, as parents, have the added safety worry of the Internet," he adds.

And the CBS News poll shows that worry may be widespread. Nearly three-quarters of parents whose kids go online think their children have visited Web sites that are pornographic, violent or sponsored by hate groups.

Schwartz' message is that parents in today's world also have to be parents in cyberspace - a notion that would have baffled Dr. Spock.

"It's not the same as the physical world. In the physical world, there are built in safety factors," explains Schwartz, which is something that Rubi and other parents are beginning to understand.

"I have to learn. There is no doubt - should I or when. I have to learn," Rubi says.

Nevertheless, according to the CBS News poll, most Americans think the benefits of the Internet outweigh its potential harm to kids. The most favored way to keep them away from any danger is to actually be with them as they surf.

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