Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 4 News List

I-Link helps parents with online safety

PREDATORS Huang Wei-wei said parents play the most important role in protecting children from Internet criminals, but they need information to do it

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Parents may save their children from predatory strangers they meet on the Internet by learning to pay more attention, a non-governmental organization said during a press conference yesterday.

I-Link Community Service Association held a news conference in Taipei by to release a short film and survey results on children's Internet safety.

More than 4,000 samples were randomly collected from elementary students across the country between the third and fifth grade, said Huang Wei-wei (黃葳威), the survey project leader and a communications professor at National Chengchi University.

"The survey found that homes are still the major place where children use the Internet, and weekends and weekday nights are the times during which most children surf the Internet," Huang said.

The survey showed that 83.6 percent of the children use the Internet at home most often.

The top three reasons that parents don't allow their children to use the Internet are concerns that it is a distraction from school work, that it is not necessary and that it was a means for children to see inappropriate material.

Huang said that is why parents play the most important role in safeguarding children against Internet crimes -- they limit access.

However, parents should do so in appropriate ways, "such as talking about online friends casually," and not "just trying to prohibit everything." Unreasonable prohibitions would only result in children's resistance, a set of Internet safety guidelines printed by the association said.

Meanwhile, Huang said it's equally important to raise children's awareness about Internet crime.

"As many as 78.2 percent of the children surveyed do not know about the Internet rating system. Nearly half of the children do not know about filtering software," while over 60 percent of the children "are not aware that people they meet in online chat rooms could have a different identity from what they claim to be -- it's very worrisome," Huang told the news conference.

The film that was released at the news conference tells the story of a junior high school girl who believed everything a "friend" she met online said and became a victim of a sex crime during a date.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩), who also attended the press conference, suggested that Internet safety lessons should be incorporated into the education system.

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