Protecting Children on the Internet



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Mailing List

Mailing lists are similar to newsgroups in that messages posted to them are viewed by many recipients. However, they differ in two key respects. First, a reader must subscribe to a mailing list if he or she wishes to read messages posted there. For example, a mailing list devoted to Gospel Music is inaccessible to anyone who has not sent a subscription request to the server that hosts the list. Second, many mailing lists are moderated and do not allow random pornographic messages nor flames. In essence, a mailing list merely takes an e-mailed posting from one of its subscribers and forwards it to the remaining subscribers. From a parental control point of view, mailing lists are a problem if devoted to inappropriate topics.
Megabyte (MB)

A megabyte is probably the most commonly used unit of measurement for memory. One MB, often referred to verbally as one "meg," equals one thousand kilobytes (KB). One thousand MB, in turn, equals one gigabyte (GB). Most computers now come with 16 MB or more of RAM and hard drives with more than 1600 MB of capacity.

A modem is the physical device which connects a computer to the Internet. Modems can be internal (installed inside a computer) or external (connected to the computer by a cable). Most modems connect computers to the Internet via phone lines, but cable modems and satellite modems also are coming on the scene.

The speed of a modem is measured by bps (bits per second). The higher the number, the better. New modems are generally rated at 33,600 bps or faster. Previous modem generations are much slower. Text-based Internet tasks, such as chat or e-mail, can be accomplished with slower modems, but web surfing, with its heavy graphic content, can be painfully slow with modems running less than 28,800 bps.

MUD (Multi-User Dungeon)

MUD, pronounced "mud," refers to one of the many different interactive role-playing games on the Internet. Many MUDs are online variants of Dungeons and Dragons. Some derivatives, such as MUSHs (Multi-User Shared Hallucination) seek to downplay the Dungeons and Dragons feel. All MUDs are text-based, with no flashy graphics. Each player uses his or her own computer, connected to the other players’ computers over the Internet. A typical MUD has a group of players cooperating in an effort to survive a multitude of computer-generated dangers. Monsters attack and the players fight them off to gain "experience points." While MUDs are Internet-based, they cannot be played from web browsers, but instead require special client programs, which are usually shareware downloaded for free from various web sites. MUDs can be addictive and many users find themselves slogging their way through MUDs into the early morning hours.
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Net is popular slang for "Internet."

The informal rules governing etiquette on the Internet are often referred to as "Netiquette." Users who fail to observe netiquette may be flamed.

Newcomers to the Internet are referred to as "newbies." A common saying is, "If you don’t know what one is, you are one." Newbies often get flamed when they first post to newsgroups because they are ignorant of the informal rules that govern newsgroup etiquette. It is highly advisable that users read the newsgroup’s FAQ and a large sampling of messages before posting for the first time to gain a feel for the content and audience of that particular newsgroup.

Thousands of newsgroups covering almost every conceivable subject are available to Net readers. For parents, especially parents of young children, newsgroups are a problem. Most are unmoderated (no host oversees the content) and some contain very inappropriate material even when the official topic is an innocuous subject such as math homework. This is because postings offering pornographic services are often broadcast to many newsgroups on the Net. Given this problem, it is wise to block access to all newsgroups for young children. Fortunately, it is easy to do so.
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Effective database searches require the use of logical operators, words that help the user specify the information he or she wishes to find. The most common are "and," "or" and "not." Some databases also use "near." These words work as you logically would expect. For example, if someone wants information on tenor saxophones, he or she could enter a search of "tenor and saxophone not alto." This search would result in information covering tenor saxophones but not alto saxophones. Note that this search looks for "saxophone" rather than "saxophones" because using the plural form would have excluded any information that only referred to a singular saxophone.
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