An avatar is a graphic representation of a computer user intended for use in computer games, on instant messages and blogs, and other forums. Parents should ensure that avatars used by their children are age appropriate and do not provide clues about their true identities or where they live or go to school.
Bell Aliant Parental Control
Bell Aliant Parental Control is software for PCs that helps keep your family safe from inappropriate websites. It blocks over 15 million websites that contain content such as pornography, drugs, criminal activity, and hate speeches. The software allows you to set day and time restrictions on when your children have access to the Internet and it provides a log of visited sites. For more information about Bell Aliant Parental Control, visit bellaliant.net.
Chatrooms are online meeting places where users can chat in real time. The online equivalent of a party line, this forum allows simultaneous conversations with many users. While some chatrooms are monitored and moderated, they are typically uncontrolled and unsupervised.
Search engines help people find information on the Internet. Google and Yahoo! are among the most popular. Some search engines, such as Google SafeSearch, have free filtering tools that can help eliminate sexually explicit websites. Also, there are many kid-friendly search engines, including Yahoo! Kids and Ask Jeeves for Kids.
Instant messaging (IM)
Instant messaging is a form of real-time communications between two or more people using typed text. Users maintain lists of friends that are notified when they are online. Some IM programs allow voice chatting and viewing participants using a Web camera (webcam). It is possible to save text conversations for later reference. Parents should review their children’s conversations on a regular basis.
Social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, are online communities of people who share interests or activities. Users are encouraged to post personal information such as pictures, biographies and journals. Parents should remind children that the Internet, including social networking sites, is a public space. Employers are increasingly reviewing applicants’ Internet postings as part of the hiring process.
Web camera or webcam
A video camera that is built-in or attached to a computer. When not in use the webcam should be disconnected or its lens cover should be on. It may be possible for hackers to activate a webcam without the owner’s knowledge.