In 2002, Massachusetts Family Institute published the Massachusetts Family Guide to Internet Safety. The Family Guide presented some of the challenges and dangers of the wonderful technology known at that time. Since then, the Internet has changed radically, but the responsibility to guide and protect children online remains the same. Massachusetts Family Institute has updated the guide including new material as well as resources to assist parents in addressing new challenges. It answers difficult questions about the complex and ever-changing World Wide Web.

Many parents are not aware when their children are online and trust that they are cautious when on the Internet. Others find it hard to comprehend their children’s attraction to technology, and the impersonality of internet communication. Seventy-nine percent of teenagers agree, however, that most are not careful about sharing personal information online, and 64 percent say that they are involved in things online that they would not want their parents to know about. While some of these “things” may be harmless, many of them could be dangerous.

It is vitally important that parents understand what is available on the Internet and what their children are doing online. There are many fine websites and other opportunities for appropriate learning; there are also many hidden dangers. Some of these threats may even be physically dangerous, as in the case of sexual predators. Others can harm a child mentally and emotionally and have long-lasting effects. Although no parent can protect his or her children from every danger on the Internet, all parents have the responsibility to become educated and teach their children how to be safe online. Ideally, the computer should be set up where parents can observe what is going on.

Our resources are intended to help parents help their children negotiate the Internet in a safe and effective way. Supporting families is critical to the mission of MFI to strengthen and educate families.