One of the questions that comes up time and again is how do we safeguard our children from being exposed to drugs and pro drug use content on the Internet?
Most parents are already attuned to risks on the web like online predators and sexual content. Increasingly, sites that promote illicit drug use—actually explaining which drugs to use and how to do it—are coming to the attention of parents as their children are exposed. What’s more, rogue online pharmacies and their e-mail spam promote painkillers and other drugs to teens with “no prescription needed” while blogs and teen content portray drug and alcohol abuse as no big deal.
Our colleagues at the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia have been studying the growth of these sites. They came away so worried about the scale and scope that they’ve invited us to partner with them and an Internet developer to launch a new online platform called WebSafe Parent.
WebSafe will be an online community educating adults about this content and how their children are exposed to it. WebSafe will also provide Community Alerts that regularly notify registered “WebSafe Parents” about new and potentially harmful websites and other threats. Parents who want to go a step further can purchase state-of-the-art software that can monitor and control how long, when and what sites children are visiting—and even block children from giving out personal information. Longer term, members will be invited to join local “WebSafe Communities ” where they can exchange information about threats with other adults in their area.
This is an increasingly digital world where teens surf freely and much of the time profit greatly from the experience. Our goal through this latest partnership is to enlighten and empower parents to protect their kids when they get into situations that can ultimately prove dangerous. It’s also a prime opportunity to remind parents and caregivers of the immense power and influence you have to help your kids make the right choices for themselves!
What are your thoughts on the content kids are exposed to on the web? Do you think your kids have discovered pro drug, sexual or other content?