Reinforce safety through parental controls, which can even be applied to your child's smart phone. In addition, you can find kid-friendly E-mail accounts online and establish filters on your Internet search engine. And don't forget the computer's history button, which Balkam calls one of the best ways to monitor your child's online activity.
3. Establish rules. "You should have rules that you and your children are clear about," Kaiser says, noting, for example, the amount of time allowed for Internet use. "Surfing the Web should not take the place of other important activities, including homework, playing outside, or spending time with friends," according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which "recommends limiting total screen time in front of a TV or computer to no more than one to two hours a day for children older than two years." William Powers, a former Washington Post reporter, took the idea several steps further in his quest to combat hyper-connectedness. In his book on the subject, Hamlets' Blackberry, Powers discusses his family's adoption of an "Internet Sabbath" each weekend to let them unplug and reconnect the old-fashioned way.
4. Get online. Become familiar with your kids' world by friending them on Facebook or frequenting their favorite sites. But also, the Internet is a tremendous resource for you to learn more about, go figure, the Internet. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, provides a "Media Time Family Pledge" and many other resources on its site, http://safetynet.aap.org. The Family Online Safety Institute provides safety contracts as well as Internet safety tips for parents and kids. The group will soon unveil an online program called "A Platform for Good," which will provide kids, parents, and teachers with tips and activities promoting online safety. Check out www.aplatformforgood.org/summer for ideas for online fun this summer.
The many other resources available online include: Sprint's www.4NetSafety.com; www.NetSmartz.org, a project of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; the federal government's www.OnGuardOnline.gov; NCSA's www.staysafeonline.org; and the Stop Think Connect campaign at www.stopthinkconnect.org.
Corrected on 6/19/2012: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.