Safety for kids on the Net is front-page news now that the Supreme Court has struck down the Computer Decency Act, returning sole responsibility for kids' online activities to parents. Whether or not you opt to use parental-control software, children need to be taught a set of online safety rules. A lot has been written for parents on this subject, but here are some resources written specially for kids. Review them with your kids, and use them as a starting point to create your own set of online rules.
KidsCom presents ten rules for Internet safety (don't give out personal information), online manners (always be polite), and copyright law (don't use pictures from someone else's Web site). The best part of the site is the two games that reinforce the rules. Mouser is for four- to eight-year olds, with the questions read aloud. Keybo is for eight- to twelve-year olds, with multiple choice and fill-in-the-missing-word questions. This interactive component makes this safety site is must-see for kids and parents.
Here you'll find five basic rules for Internet safety, followed by a wealth of other safety information presented in a question and answer format. Topics include bullies, bicycle safety, drugs, emergencies, avoiding fights, preventing fires and more.
This page of notes and warnings is not broken down into a neat set of numbered rules, but contains wisdom such as if "looking at something on the Net makes you uncomfortable, don't look at it! The back button is your friend." It also explains keeping secrets, the importance of passwords, sites that want to sell you things, and sites that say things you disagree with. The material here is an excellent starting point for discussions with your kids about a wide range of subjects including advertising, mailing lists and privacy.
Syndicated columnist Larry Magid condenses online safety into six (often quoted) rules. Published by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, these rules are suitable for printing (the type is black on a white background) and posting by your computer. These rules are taken from their brochure "Child Safety on the Information Highway" which is available free by calling 1-800-843-5678.