The Orthodox Union, aware of the pitfalls and dangers of Internet use for children and teens, is calling on its nationwide synagogue network to increase parental awareness about Internet safety guidelines. In order for parents to obtain vital information to protect their children from inappropriate Internet content, as well as from harmful individuals, the OU has issued an interactive CD-ROM, which was just sent to rabbis of its member congregations across North America.
As an extension of the OU's educational parenting initiative, Safe Schools, Safe Shuls, and Safe Homes, the OU is urging the rabbis to inform their congregations about the CD.
The CD-ROM provides information on various uses of the Internet and gives practical advice to ensure that a young person's Internet experience is healthy and productive. It was disseminated free-of-charge to the rabbis of OU synagogue network and is now being made available to the general public for $10 per copy, which will cover production and mailing costs.
"We are living in a century that has been heralded as the 'cyberage,' a time when the Internet has made information available in an unprecedented manner, on a scale that has never been seen before," declared Frank Buchweitz, OU National Director of Community Services and Special Projects.
"This influx of information has brought with it many benefits, and it has also brought about new challenges, such as personal safety and inappropriate content available at a child's fingertips. Parents should become aware of how these issues can impact their children," he said.
According to Family Media Safety, (familysafemedia.com) , which is dedicated to providing the latest products and services that can help parents bring safe media into their homes, youngsters between ages of 12 to 17 are the largest group of viewers of inappropriate material.
This content, however, is but one aspect of the Internet world. According to Frank Buchweitz, "Cyberspace is made up of a wide array of people, most of whom are decent and respectful, but some may be rude, obnoxious, insulting, exploitive, and dangerous. Adults and children can benefit greatly from being on line, but they can also be targets of crime, exploitation, and harassment in this, as in any other environment."
"This interactive CD-ROM will help parents safely navigate the 'information superhighway' with their family," he said.
The CD-ROM may be purchased by logging onto www.ou.org and clicking on the Safe Home link under the Family Life section on the left side of the home page. To accompany the CD, the OU is making available a number of articles, including Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet: Tips for Parents and Guardians, which will be sent free-of-charge with every purchase.
In addition, those interested in bringing a program or speaker on Internet safety or other parenting education programs to their community, may contact the Department of Community Services at 212-613-8188 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.