Online dangers can be numerous for children

Parents, beware - there's a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde in your home, and you might not even realize it, especially since it goes by other names. Among its aliasess are the Internet, the World Wide Web and cyberspace.

In the right hands, it can be an excellent entertainer and a fantastic learning tool. It can carry curious minds to any place on the globe, in a second and any time, night or day, and it can bring anyone renowned on the planet, past or present, into the living room.

In the hands of children, it can do just the opposite. With one or two simple clicks, it can bring into your home, into your child's room, sexual predators from every corner of every state and every nation in the world and ideas that are better left to older, mature minds to ponder or digest.

As a parent or guardian, though, you can protect your children from the Mr. Hyde side of the Internet. You can with proper controls and even better by closely monitoring the web sites in cyberspace visited by the preteens and teens in your household.

Adults are always saying that they know their young charges well enough to completely trust them with a personal computer and the Internet. Trust them, yes, but "trust" them to be children - young minds that are curious, experimental and most always oblivious to the dangers lurking on the fringes of cyberspace.

Just recently, in Camden County, a 34-year-old man thought he was chatting to the parent of an 11-year-old girl via the Internet. An 11-year-old girl. AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl. He wanted to meet the child and thought he was cyber-chatting with an adult who would give him access to her.

Rest assured, he is not the only one hiding behind a name in cyberspace who's scanning chat rooms for young girls or boys. There are others out there, many others.

Don't let your children fall victim to them.