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Questions to Ask Your
Internet Service Provider (ISP)


Try to imagine your child going to the park in your neighborhood and being approached by a pedophile, who has a way of knowing exactly when your son or daughter is playing there. Now imagine that this pedophile has invited his friends to the park to meet your child. This is the type of encounter that may take place online. Depending on your Internet Service Provider, your child's screen name may be found in a member listing or added to a list that announces your child's arrival online, and anyone can send your child private messages-even if your child has never entered a chat room.

You have the power to protect your child from such online activity. The following is a list of questions that you can address with your ISP:

  • Do you have online profiles? Do you have a member directory? How can a parent keep a screen name or an account name unlisted?

  • Do you have chat rooms? Are there specific chat rooms for minors? Are they monitored? Is there a mechanism in place to block chat rooms?

  • Do you have some sort of private/instant message system? How do users block incoming private messages? Can users block only some, or is it all or nothing? Can my child change the list of those who I have approved to IM my child?

  • Do you have an option (like a posted list or buddy list) that allows people online to see if others are online? Does it have a blocking system?

  • Do you have a way to block e-mail from individual accounts or from certain addresses or types of sites? What about reporting unwanted e-mail?

  • What other parental controls or protections for minors do you have available?

  • How do users report suspicious online activity?

© 2001 by Donna Rice Hughes. Request permission if you wish to reprint or post.