I recently received an anonymous post from a concerned fellow regarding child safety on the Internet. He suggested some measures to help keep kids safe while using IRC. He suggested some good ideas, such as educating kids (or heck, anyone) not to give out their address, phone number, or school name to strangers.
While there have been a lot of stuff in the news about children being abducted by people “online”, the truth is, it is a small threat. Kids are far more likely to be molested by family members than anyone they meet online. One article even goes so far as to suggest the threat on the Internet is good for them, and I tend to agree. Filtering software is a horrid idea which doesn't even work anyway.
The threat is pretty easily dealt with by some education and a little parental supervision. Kids, don't give out personal info about yourself. If you are going to meet someone, bring an adult and make sure someone knows where you're going. Be smart, and have a getaway plan. You never know. Don't accept pictures from people unless you're prepared to see something lewd from time to time. Use your head.
IRC is an unmoderated forum, and we (AfterNET) are not responsible for any content you may encounter. Chatter beware.
Turns out though, its only bits and bytes, and for the most part, nobody can hurt you here (sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me). Thats why IRC is so cool, you can relax and interact in a safe, open, uncensored medium. The world is out there. Experience it, and think for yourself.
Update: 49 state attorneys general task force finds online threat to children is only media hype