Lyn Loy is new to the World Wide Web. The Park View High School PTO president and mother of two did not own a computer until two years ago.
"I have had to ramp up quickly to arm myself with information to be safe on the Internet," Loy said. "I think we should have formal presentations on this in our community and in our schools."
LOUDOUN COUNTY Public Schools has released "Some Simple Internet Safety Rules" compiled from sources including the Polly Klaas Foundation and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Loudoun County Public Schools spokesperson Wayde Byard said it is important for students to realize once they post something on the Web, "it stays there."
"Anyone can access that information, including future employers and college administrative officers and Internet predators," Byard said.
Loudoun County Public Schools monitors local blogs or online journals.
"The First Amendment is a wonderful things, but you have to be careful with it in this environment," Byard said.
According to the Polly Klaus Foundation, one in 10 teens have learned that someone they communicated with was much older than what they claimed to be.
"We are going to leave it up on our Web site for the rest of the year," he said.
THE LOY FAMILY keeps their computer in the living room.
"The most alluring factor regarding children and the use of the Internet is that they are curious. Wandering around the Internet can cause them to fall into a trap of dangerous Web sites," Loy said. "I frequently review the sites my children have visited. I check to see what sites they have "Googled." If I do not recognize the name, I visit it."
These exercises have sparked important conversations between Loy and her two children.
Loy has counseled her children on the dangers of typing words like "sex" into search engines.
"Rather than forbid them to seek information, I give them specific Web sites that I have researched, which have accurate information," Loy said. "This kind of communication has opened many doors. They know that, used properly, the Internet can be a powerful source."
For parents, Loy said, knowledge is power.
Loy has organized monthly PTA presidents meetings, where parents discuss topics like Internet safety. In the spring, she would like to hold an informal parent forum through Park View High SchoolÕs Parent Teacher Student Association, to discuss Internet safety.
"The more we learn about Internet safety, the more we can protect our kids," she said.