Search form

Paving the Way to Internet Safety!

President Clinton recently announced his strategy for making the Internet child-safe and family-friendly. Read the details of his plan-and check out a handful of Web sites that'll help you provide a safe Internet experience for your students.

On July 16, President Clinton announced a strategy for making the Internet "family-friendly." The President's plan calls for a joint effort by government, industry, parents, and teachers to ensure that "the Internet will be both safe for our children and the greatest educational resource we have ever known."

"We all know and we've heard the horror stories about the inappropriate material for children that can be found on the Internet," Clinton said in his remarks. "But the computer industry is developing a whole toolbox full of technologies that can do for the Internet what the V-chip will do for television."

"I think it's fair to say that history will evaluate the Internet as having sparked a revolution in information perhaps every bit as profound as the printing press," Clinton said. "For today, at the click of a mouse, children can tap into the resources of the Library of Congress or a great museum, and they can communicate with classrooms around the world."

He cited NASA's Pathfinder Web site, which has had 27 million hits since July 4, as one example of how the Internet can bring together people.

Clinton announced that Netscape Communications has committed to add family-friendly controls to the next release of its Internet browser. Those controls, in the form of a special filtering technology known as the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS), will allow parents to choose from a variety of rating systems to block sites that are inappropriate for children. Microsoft, producer of another popular browser, already offers such options. Together, Microsoft and Netscape account for more than 90 percent of the browser market.

Most commercial online services and Internet providers currently offer customers filtering software that enables parents to block out objectionable material; and many of them offer the software for free.

Clinton also announced that many of the online search engine companies-including Yahoo, Excite, and Lycos-have agreed to make it easy for Web site developers to rate their sites appropriately. As new sites apply to be part of those directories, they will be asked to label any material that might be objectionable.

"I want to thank Yahoo, Excite, and Lycos for this important commitment," Clinton said. "You're helping greatly to assure that self-labeling will become standard practice. And that must be our objective."

"The Internet community must work to make these labels as common as food safety labels are today," Clinton concluded.

Related Sites

Want to learn more about the Internet safety issue? Following are a handful of sites that offer valuable information about Internet safety. Each site's content is briefly described.

  • Gopher Q&A from ERIC Answers to commonly asked primary and secondary school Internet user questions. This site is produced by the Internet School Networking group in the User Services Area of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Topics covered include Internet safety (question #6).
  • Students on the Internet: Can You Ensure Appropriate Access? This story from the April 1996 issue of The School Administrator, published by the American Association of School Administrators, looks closely at the cyberporn debate, acceptable use policies (AUPs), and filtering devices.
  • Creating Board Policies for Student Use of the Internet Acceptable use policies help define acceptable behaviors by student and staff users of information systems, while Board policies take the matter much farther. "The vaguer the rules in any particular district, the greater the risk that individuals will be caught up in storms of protest or moral dilemmas," says Jamieson McKenzie, editor of FromNowOn.Org, The Educational Technology Journal. McKenzie's article details some of the specific questions that school boards should address.
  • Bellingham (Washington) Public Schools Click on "Board Policies" to learn more about this school district's Internet Policy. The site includes rules for student and curriculum use, and permission forms.
  • Surfing Safely on the Internet: Lesson Plan The Internet can be a safe place for children to discover the world around them and to develop researching and critical thinking skills-if you teach them how to use it appropriately. This excellent lesson plan from an experienced Internet teacher/user teaches children the things they need to know before they're allowed to search on their own, including safety rules, how to use a search engine (and which search engines to use), and how to navigate on the Internet. Students produce a video of what they learned.
  • Child Safety on the Internet This site is full of connections for families and educators interested in learning more about Internet safety issues.
  • Acceptable Use Policies This Gopher Menu offers reports on AUPs in Texas, Boulder, Pittsburgh, and more.
  • Child Safety on the Information Highway Rules for child safety on the Internet published by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These rules are geared for parents/the home but can be easily adapted for schools by teachers.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2006 Education World