Our Opinion: Online precautions

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

While the Internet continues to grow as the medium of choice for millions of users, the dangers that lie in the dark corners of the World Wide Web are also expanding. For all the good that is derived from online access to the world, there are good reasons to be concerned about the exposure of young Internet users.

Such is the case with Web sites that appeal particularly to teenagers. These sites give young Internet users an opportunity to express themselves openly -- and, it is presumed, confidentially. These sites are supposed to provide anonymity for users, but many teens post too many particulars about themselves, exposing them to predators who surf these sites to find victims.

While most teens who go on the Internet regularly know about these Web sites, many parents do not. Parents in households where teens use home computers should be aware of these sites and review their content for suitability for their children.

Teens who have a sense of responsibility and know the limits of what should or should not be posted on such sites will, no doubt, gain a great deal of personal enjoyment from Web sites where they can share their postings with other teens. But they -- and their parents -- need to be cautious about visitors to such sites who have darker motives.