Disney to Kids Online: Surf Safely!

Concerned about the expanding access kids have the World Wide Web, The Disney Channel and Disney XD are partnering with Common Sense Media to teach kids how to protect themselves on the Internet.

Their initiative, which features characters from Disney's hit Phineas and Ferb, includes a public service announcement (PSA) airing on the Disney channels, as well a website which includes a guide for parents and a way for kids to quiz their folks about online safety.

Some key messages in the PSA:

* Be careful what you put online. It never goes away, and you never know who's going to see it

* Just because you read it online doesn't mean it's true

* Not everyone online is who they say they are

* If you wouldn’t do it in person you shouldn't do it online

* Nothing beats spending time with real friends

Will the effort make an impact on kids? Only time and more statistics will tell. But an equally good question: How sensitized are parents are to the dangerous Venus Flytrap nature of the Internet? Many likely see it like they do television -- as just another harmless weapon of mass distraction. But internet safety works best when kids are cautious and parents are vigilant.

To that end, I recommend Common Sense Media work next with Law & Order: SVU, the show that does for casual Internet surfing what Jaws did for swimming with sharks. Just send the kids to bed before you tune in.

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