There are three ways to use the new PKR:

  1. Browse and click on color-coded boxes that appear as if by magic as you scroll down.
  2. Click on a category for all the ParenTips under that particular category.
  3. Go to the Site Map (link) for an:
    • a) alphabetical list of all ParenTips.
    • b) A list of all 8 categories with every ParenTip in that category listed alphabetically.

Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!

close directions


Lots of people, including me, are concerned about the recent rash of spam, which seems to come from an innocuous person. When you open it, you are asked if you are interested in a list of five unprintable and unspeakable sex practices: if so, click on the web site.

I immediately double delete such messages. I never open an attachment or click on a web site if the e-mail comes from someone I don’t know. So I do a lot of double-deleting. But the stuff keeps coming.

Let’s think about a hypothetical 9-year-old, a smart kid who can do anything on a computer, who is also a responsible kid so he’s home alone for an hour after day camp and before his parents come home from work. Young hypothetical gets the same e-mail. Can parents do anything to protect this kid from smut and porno? Yup, to a degree they can, and to my way of thinking, they should.


Parents have a responsibility and a right to KNOW what their children are doing, to OBSERVE what their children are doing, and to TALK WITH THEIR CHILDREN about their computer usage. But, you gasp, what about the little tyke’s privacy? Children do not come into this world with a right to privacy — they earn it by growing up responsibly which they may not do if left to their own devices all the time by misguided parents.

Parents must continuously MONITOR computer usage. No you’re not there every minute but you can make it very clear that Internet access is a privilege which the child must earn. Pre-teenagers should not have a computer in their bedroom (Dr. Heins doesn’t approve of bedroom TVs either.) The family room is a better place for a home computer. You have a family computer that everybody uses? Where have you been on the Internet? Any smutty sites on your bookmarks? Delete ‘em. Clean up what’s on your hard drive and disks.

Parents must set up Internet RULES. The most important rule is — as in the case of automobiles — the person who owns the computer (and, of course, you do because you paid for it) makes the rules. These rules are especially important for teens who may be into chat rooms but make the rules clear even to younger kids who are just beginning to use the Net.

1) DON’T OPEN WEB SITES THAT PROMISE SEX OR VIOLENCE. Delete the message from your screen and your trash bin. Never click on a “Click here to remove your name” message as it tells the sender that yours is an active e-mail site. Also never call an 800 number on such a message.

2) NEVER, NEVER GIVE ANYBODY PERSONAL INFORMATION. No names, phone numbers, addresses, pictures.

3) NEVER ARRANGE TO MEET ANYONE WITHOUT YOUR PARENTS’ PERMISSION. Even with permission any meeting must be in a public place with your parents present.

4) If you get repeated mail from one person or site tell your parents so they can help you complain. If the e-mail is the electronic equivalent of stalking, or is threatening, write to the webmaster of the Internet Service Provider or even call the police.

5) Parents: invite your children to TALK TO YOU ABOUT ANYTHING THAT MAKES THEM UNCOMFORTABLE. Talk it over, discuss options, remind them that they don’t have to respond to a computer message which makes them uncomfortable — just as we throw out junk mail or letters from people we want nothing to do with. As in the case of a personal encounter with a lowlife who preys on kids, be sure to emphasize to your kids that IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT.

Parents can consider FILTERS, but let me warn you they are far from a perfect solution. First of all, the technology is not foolproof. Filters can prevent “good” stuff from getting to your mailbox while awful stuff sneaks through because professional spammers find clever ways to avoid the filtering process. Second, filters may give parents a false sense of security.

Parents can use CHILD-PROTECTIVE INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS like — a Disney company which limits areas children can access. This means your kids can’t log on to sites or chat rooms that are dangerous or unsuitable for kids. Sign-up for this Internet Service is by age categories like “12 and under” and the child must provide birthdate, e-mail address, and parents e-mail address and credit card number — even though the service is free. The child is from then on identified by his or her user ID and can access only appropriate material. But all that prevents your computer whiz kids from using their parents’ computer is SUPERVISION, MONITORING, AND COMMUNICATION.