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Guide to the Information Superhighway

Welcome to the Information Superhighway

That's the main message of this Guide. It's designed to welcome you, and give you a simple step-by-step introduction to parenting in a world of computers and new forms of media. This Guide will provide some tools and rules for you to use with your pre-high school and high school children at home, at school, and in the community.

The Parent Perspective

It seems overnight there's a whole new world for kids — and for you. From computers to software to the Internet — there are so many new things, yet little guidance for parents trying to figure it all out. (Boldface terms are defined in the Glossary). That's why we decided to write this Guide. We hope to:

  1. Introduce parents to a new and changing media.
  2. Help parents use common sense parenting along with simple, practical tips about the new technology.
  3. Boost parents' confidence and jump-start their involvement to make sure that new media will truly benefit children.
Who Is This Guide For?

This Guide is for parents who have begun to see that computers and online services will be or already are a part of children's lives at school, at community centers, at home, or at the library — and who are looking for some guidelines and advice. We have written it with the computer novice in mind, and have provided simple definitions and ideas for how to get involved. But we hope that parents who have already become online travelers will find useful tips as well. We recognize that it is not possible to meet the needs of every parent through one Guide. But hopefully this Guide provides a starting point for all parents to get involved.

What Does This Guide Cover?

Working with the National PTA and the National Urban League, The Children's Partnership talked to dozens of parents. We found these most frequently asked questions, which this Guide sets out to answer:

This Guide focuses on computers and services that allow young people to go beyond their own computer at school or at home and link into a wider world. We focus on the "online" world — at this time mostly represented by the Internet and the World Wide Web — though other aspects of the superhighway are sometimes discussed.

While we try to give parents a brief survey of current technology, we have emphasized parenting strategies in a world where children and young people often know more than their parents. Although we don't focus on CD-ROMs, video games, or computer software, we do refer to them, and many of the parenting tips for being online also apply to these media.

How to Use This Guide

The Guide can be used in two ways:

  1. You can read it straight through and find a basic road map to the superhighway, along with road signs to other helpful information (see the Resources section); or
  2. You can jump to the area that seems most useful to you. At the bottom of each file are links to every section of the Guide.
Last Word

The history of media, and television especially, has taught us some important lessons when it comes to children. First, media has a very powerful influence on young people. Second, without strong public attention to media issues, children's best interests are not adequately served. These lessons are especially important today, as a new information society is being created. In addition to helping parents do the best for their own children, we hope that this Guide helps parents connect with institutions like the National PTA and the National Urban League as well as their local schools and community institutions to ensure that this new generation of media is good for all kids.

Wendy Lazarus and Laurie Lipper DIRECTORS

© 1998 The Children's Partnership. All Rights Reserved.

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