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New Report Shows a Widespread Effort to Safeguard Children Online

Report Compiled in response to Challenge by Concerned Congressman

FOR RELEASE: October 26, 1999

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
703-243-5700

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 26, 1999) - The Media Institute, a nonprofit foundation specializing in communications policy, today released a comprehensive new directory of initiatives to guard kids online, called, "Protecting Kids Online." The survey reveals that a wide range of companies, educational groups and advocacy organizations have made great strides in the battle to protect children from inappropriate content and other online dangers.

Nearly a year of research went into the report, which details the accomplishments of companies like America Online, AT&T, Cyber Patrol, Lycos, Pearl Software and Viacom/Nickelodeon Online to protect kids online. The report also lists efforts by groups ranging from the Anti-Defamation League and the Children's Partnership to the Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Better Business Bureau and the National Urban League.

"The results of our survey led us to two indisputable conclusions: The online industry is offering parents a remarkable array of options for shielding children online, and there is a strong and growing market for kid-friendly sites," said Patrick D. Maines, President of The Media Institute.

The report was created in response to a request from Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.), who challenged The Media Institute last year to gauge the progress being made by industry to protect kids.

"My vision for communications policy is quite simple," he said, in issuing the challenge. "Government should help, not hinder, the booming electronic marketplace; consumer choice should be maximized; and there should be ample competition. At the same time, safety, security and privacy on the Internet should be protected and advanced [and] ... we must do everything necessary to make sure the First Amendment rights of adults are not trampled."

The report, edited by Richard T. Kaplar, Vice President of The Media Institute, highlights efforts in three areas:

Technology: Hardware and software advances as well as information resources on safe online behavior.

Consumer Education: Education, training and assistance programs, both online and off, focused on kids' safety and aimed at parents, teachers, librarians and community or religious leaders.

Law Enforcement: Efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of law enforcement to protect children from victimization, including a survey of training and education programs and best practices.

The report shows that companies are not just protecting kids, but are also going that extra mile to make sure that their safe programs are appealing to kids. Examples of these are AOL's Internet video with TV and sports stars, and fun sites like "Curiocity's Free Zone," Bonus.com's "Super Site for Kids," EarthLink's "Kid Zone," Lycos' "Tripod's Teens Voices," and Ripple Effects' "relate for teens" site.

"Protecting Kids Online" provides contact information for every company and organization that participated in the report, creating a unique list of those interested in children's online protection. All 46 organizations included in the report replied voluntarily to the inquiry from The Media Institute, including 27 industry groups: America Online, Ameritech, AT&T, BASCOM Global Internet Services, Bell Atlantic, Bonus Network Corp., Cyber Patrol, EarthLink Network, Inc., Education Networks of America, EzSolve, GetNetWise.org, GO Network, Go2Net, Intel, Lycos, MCIWorldCom Foundation, Microsoft, Net Nanny Software International, NetSelector, Pearl Software, Inc., Ripple Effects, Sterling Strategic Solutions, SurfMonkey.com, Surfwatch Software, Time Warner Inc., Viacom/Nickelodeon Online and the Walt Disney Company.

The 19 nonprofit groups in the report are: American Library Association, Anti-Defamation League, Center for Democracy & Technology, Childnet International, Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Better Business Bureau, Children's Partnership, Consortium for School Networking, CyberSmart!, Family Education Network, Focus on the Family, I-SAFE America, KIDSNET, KIDS SAFE Education Foundation, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, National PTA, National Urban League, Public Broadcasting Service, SafetyEd International and Surfing the Net With Kids.

An appendix to the report provides detailed information on the recent launch of GetNetWise.org, an Internet resource to help families protect children online sponsored by a diverse group of companies and Web sites. The content from the GetNetWise Web site also is found on all of the major portals, like America Online, AT&T, Disney, Lycos, Microsoft and Yahoo.

To order a copy of the report, contact The Media Institute at (202) 298-7512.