So yesterday I spoke at a local elementary school "Career Day" about Conejo Valley Guide. It was a lot of fun and there was a large range of presenters...including firefighters, a dentist (actually, MY dentist), a shoe designer, jockey, creative director, ad salesperson, x-ray technician, project manager and a whole range of others.
Anyhow, it was no surprise to me that ALL of the 25 students in my sessions use the Internet. But what WAS surprising to me was how many, probably 80% to 90%, of the 4th, 5th and 6th graders in attendance, are avid users of YouTube and other popular websites. A few of the kids mentioned "Webkins" and other kid sites, but a lot of the kids are on the Web all the time on all sorts of sites.
Not that YouTube is bad or anything; there's a lot of great stuff that kids can learn from in there. But the Internet as we know has a virtually unendless supply of stuff we rarely got exposed to as a kid...pornography, chat rooms, hate sites, social networking, shareware, personals/dating, drugs, weapons, violence, etc.
I know some parents that rarely let there kids on the Internet, and others who allow it under close supervision. However, can be hard to do. I know it is in my household, with 3 boys ranging from 3 to 15.
So I strongly advise taking a look at one of the various Internet Filtering Software products out there. We've used, with success, a product called Cybersitter. Among other things it allows you to block dozens of different website categories as well as specific sites chosen by you. Cybersitter costs about $35 to $40 but is worth it for peace of mind.
Net Nanny one of the most popular and well known Web filtering software products and sells for $30 to $40. This website: http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/ has a great summary and reviews for all of the top products, including Net Nanny and Cybersitter. Worth checking out!
There are also FREE Internet filtering products available! I have not personally tried them (I should and plan to do so in the future) but one popular one is called K9 Web Protection. K9 looks like a good product and allows you to block 60 different categories of websites as well as specific sites.