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Julie Wernert

Last modified: Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This holiday season make sure your kids are safe AND sensible online

Nov. 28, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Researchers from the Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University have a friendly reminder for the thousands of parents who will decide this holiday season that their child is finally ready for the privilege and responsibility of owning a personal computer or laptop.

As their child boots up that new holiday gift, most parents will remember to reinforce standard online safety rules: don't share personal information, don't reply to inappropriate e-mail and don't arrange to meet strangers. Educating kids about online safety is essential. But the Pervasive Technology Labs researchers want parents to know that when they talk to their kids about being safe online, they must not forget to also teach them to be sensible online.

"In addition to teaching safety, parents also need to encourage kids to think about their future ambitions and help them understand that there is no such thing as online privacy. The Internet is a public space -- and it doesn't forget," said Gregory Travis of the Advanced Network Management Lab.

Kids may believe information they remove from personal pages, blogs and social networking sites like Myspace or Facebook is gone, but with archiving Web sites like and cached or past versions of Web sites being easier than ever to access, there is a good chance the "erased" version is still available. This means teens should think twice before griping about their teacher, making insulting or inflammatory statements or sharing potentially embarrassing information and photos.

"Before they start typing," Travis added, "kids need to ask themselves 'What kind of impression will this give to the admissions officer at my favorite college? Is this really what I want my future employer to think of me?'"

According to a recent poll reported in the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Summer 2006 NACE Journal, 50 percent of employers currently use online technology to research the background of potential employees during the job search process and 7 percent more plan to start.

"Lots of good kids probably never consider future consequences of what they put online today," Travis said. "It's up to adults to teach kids to think before they post."

What to tell kids about staying safe and sensible online:

  • Never give personal information to online friends. Personal information includes your name, messenger ID, e-mail address, school name, phone numbers, home address and pictures of you, your family or friends.
  • If you publish a photo or video online, be aware that anyone can change it or share it.
  • Never say or do anything online that you wouldn't ordinarily share with parents, friends, teachers or employers.
  • Some people don't tell the truth online. What you see may not be what you get.
  • Never arrange to meet someone you've met online without a trusted adult.
  • Never respond to e-mail or chat that makes you uncomfortable. Tell an adult about inappropriate Internet material or activity.

About Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University

Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University (, established in 1999 by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., performs leading-edge research based on the ubiquity of information technology in today's world, creating new inventions, devices, and software that extend the capabilities of information technology in advanced research and everyday life. Fundamental to its mission are efforts to attract, encourage, educate and retain Indiana 's workforce of tomorrow, and to accelerate economic growth in the state through the commercialization of new inventions and by forming and supporting new start-up companies. In carrying out its mission, Pervasive Technology Labs is helping Indiana University maintain its position of international leadership in information technology research and, as a result, is helping to enhance the prosperity of the entire State of Indiana.