Tips from the U.S. bishops’ document “Your Family and Cyberspace,” available at

Take the time to become educated about the Internet — it's an investment in the safety and health of your children.

Select an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that provides the option of ISP-filtered access.

Put any computer with Internet access in a public area of the house — not in a bedroom or den.

Spend time on the Internet with your child, even if you are only an interested learner — you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

Encourage your children to think about what they find on the Internet and to ask you if, for instance, they find “Catholic” information that doesn't sound like what they've learned about the Church at home or in school.

Focus on the good sites and material available.

Guide your children in how to use e-mail responsibly. It's a fun and useful part of the Internet, if used properly.

Encourage your children to bring anything questionable to your attention, and praise them for bringing problems to you.

Caution your children never to give personal information — such as name, address or telephone number — to anyone on the Internet without your permission, and never to send their pictures.

Tell your children not to fill out questionnaires they find on the Internet without your permission.

Tell your children not to respond to any belligerent or suggestive contact or to anything that makes them uncomfortable — and to let you know if anything like that happens.

Do not permit face-to-face meetings with people they meet on the Internet, unless there's a good reason to do so and you or someone you trust is present.

Don't overreact if your children bring something inappropriate to your attention, or they will be intimidated and not do so again.

Don't miss the significance of hidden disks — usage of pornographic or hate-filled material tends to be secretive.

Remind your children that these rules apply whenever they use computers at locations outside the home, such as libraries.

Above all, communicate. The best protection is good relationships and a healthy Christian family life in which family members talk and pray together.

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