Parents should not allow their children to surf on the Internet alone. That is the only way to protect boys and girls from encountering violent and pornographic content on the Internet, says Schau Hin, a Hamburg-based advocacy group.
Roughly half of six to 13-year-olds use the Internet, the group reports. Yet one in two children go online without adult supervision, the group reported as part of its "Safer Internet Day" campaign.
While the Internet may be attractive to young children, they should already be able to read and write before going online, says Thomas Michael, spokesman for the initiative.
"They need these skills to be able to move around on the net, to do things such as typing in an Internet address," Michael explains.
There are a variety of excellent portals to help introduce the web, including Yahoo's popular Yahooligans! (http://kids.yahoo.com/). Yahooligans! "functions like a search engine, except that editors have sorted through the sites to which it links".
It is important that parents limit the time their children spend in front of a computer screen, the group advises. Computers, televisions and gaming consoles should all be part of that calculation, Michael claims.
Children under six years should be allowed no more than 30 minutes per day in front of a screen. That number rises to 60 minutes for six to nine-year olds, and 90 minutes for nine to 12-year-olds.
"For teenagers as much as two hours are allowable," says Thomas Michael. "But you should watch that the children still manage to get out and move around a bit."