Submitted by "ToadKing"
The short answer to this (rather broad) question is a resounding yes - and no. There actually is no short answer on this subject.
[Knowledge is] A comfortable and necessary retreat and shelter for us in advanced age; and if we do not plant it while young it will give us no shade when we grow old. --Lord Chesterfield
The Internet is a vastly huge resource. It is almost humbling if you stop to think about how much information is really out there. When I was growing up I would have to occasionally walk to our small town public library to get information for a report I had been assigned to do for school. Imagine having access to everything published. Every newspaper, encyclopedia, dictionary, magazine, and book. First-person accounts and personal thoughts of the day from people on the other side of the globe - even the Library of Congress can be accessed through the Internet and all of it from the comfort of your own home.
I cannot imagine a child who has computer access to the Internet turning in less than a stellar report on...C.S. Lewis...or steam engines...or whatever (Complete with a printed picture of Mr. Lewis' gravesite.) It's all out there. But there is a price to be paid for so much information and it is our job as parents to make sure that our children pay no part of that price.
While there is so much good information out there to be had, getting at it is not as easy as it seems. Instead of a vast world library with everything neatly indexed, the Internet more resembles a global bazzar. And while there are libraries in this bazzar you occasionally have to go through neighborhoods where you definitely would not take a child. This bazzar has plenty of predators, shysters, and con-artists and when you finally reach the library you often find it's card-catalog crammed with spam.
So yes, by all means have your child use the Internet - but not alone. I highly recommend installing filtering software (i.e. CYBERsitter, NetNanny, Cyber Patrol, or similar...you can review them all online) because simply having you by their side will NOT prevent them from seeing certain things. Filtering software works much faster than you ever could to block undesired content. So go out and tour the worldwide bazzar with your child, you will both find new sights and learn new things - but take a policeman along with you please.
Another Opinion submitted by "Rainy" from Jacksonville, FL:
We only recently got on the internet with our home computer. I was concerned at first with the kids going into chat rooms & I will continue to look over their shoulders when they are online. I really believe it is a matter of trust with your children. Go over the rules, cover again how to exit systems. My oldest daughter showed her maturity while in the teen chatroom,she was approached by a male that wanted to go to a private room. At 14 she was smart enough to say why? When he mentioned cybersex,she said NO. Let's give our kids credit for having enough sense to figure out if they are doing something they know their parents wouldn't approve of. My kids know, use an alias, don't give out address or email address, if you are uncomfortable with chat--leave. The world is not always nice, I'd rather them get a taste of it on internet, instead of up close & personal.
Feel free to send in your own opinions regarding this article or anything else regarding parenting.