Kids Not Surfing Solo on the Web

Forget Big Brother. Kids who are surfing the Web mostly have Big Mother (or Big Father) looking over their shoulders.

According to an online poll of more than 300 parents conducted by Parent Soup, one of the largest parenting Websites in the U.S., 84 percent of moms and dads quizzed said they do not let their children surf the Web without supervision. Small wonder.

Despite the recent enactment of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, parents still think children -- especially teens -- must be supervised when they're using the Net. The federal law, which went into effect April 21, requires Websites to get verifiable parental consent before collecting personal information from users under age 13. The law does not, however, cover teens, starting at age 13.

Results of a recent poll of 1,001 adults and 304 kids with online access conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that teens, not younger children, are more likely to give info about themselves or their parents if they're offered free gifts. While 16 percent of kids 10 to 12 acknowledged providing information about themselves to a Website, a whopping 39 percent of 13-to-17-year-olds were willing to do so.

Parents say they will continue to monitor their children's Web-surfing habits as long they are under 18 years old. Here are some reasons why: Only my 13-year-old is allowed on AOL, and that is only to instant message and email her friends. She is not allowed to surf the Web or open emails from a strange screen name. She saves them all for me to look at. My eight-year-old is only allowed to play games that we have bought for her computer.

--Host PS Beach

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