Keep Your Kids Safe

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In September 2003, 53-year-old John Zuccarini was arrested at a Florida hotel and, after admitting to his crimes in a plea bargain, became the first person convicted under the national Truth in Domain Names Act. The crime: According to the United States Attorneys office for the Southern District of New York, Zuccarini registered and used more than 3,000 misleading domain names, many of which directed children to hard-core porn sites and graphic depictions of young people engaged in sex acts. The domains included www and—both misspellings of the addresses for popular childrens TV shows.

Porn is just one of many issues parents should be concerned about when their kids go online. Problems could be as dangerous as encountering a predator in a chat room, as common as sharing music and software illegally via peer-to-peer file-sharing services, or as simple as spending far too much time playing games and chatting with friends.

Recent market research suggests that many parents consider online chatting more dangerous than Web surfing. Last year, Microsofts MSN service shut down its chat rooms in 28 countries partly because of concerns about sexual predators preying on minors. And in a study published by Harris Interactive in November 2003, 24 percent of 550 U.S. teens surveyed said they had been contacted online by a stranger who tried to arrange an off-line meeting.

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