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Friday, September 25, 1998
A Teachers.Net Chat
Parry Aftab, Esq.
Author and Lawyer
A Parents' Guide to the Internet
Aftab & Savitt, P.C.
Cyber Angels
Parents Guide to the Internet

Bob R/CA - I'm honored to introduce Parry Aftab, Esq., our speaker tonight. Ms. Aftab is a cyberspace lawyer and a recognized leader in the field of Internet law and electronic commerce and business. She is a frequent contributor to major business and legal publications, has appeared on many news and talk shows around the country and speaks nationally and internationally on global technology and business issues. Ms. Aftab also counsels governmental regulatory authorities on legal issues impacted by Internet commerce. An author of over 50 articles, Ms. Aftab also recently authored the 1998 book, A Parents' Guide to the Internet ... and how to protect your children in cyberspace ( (All her royalties on the book are donated to Roads Without Ramps, a charitable foundation she established to help wheelchair-bound children connect to the Internet.) She also devotes time to working with many communities and school systems to help them develop Internet use policies, training programs and online curricula. Ms. Aftab is a charter member of Children Television Workshop Online Advisory Board, as well as a member of The National Urban League's Technology Advisory Committee.
Tony B/CA - Parry Aftab is actually an expert in cyberspace and technology law. She also is expert on all forms of electronic commerce.
Parry Aftab is the Host of America On Line's Legal Discussion Boards. Together with Court TV, she also originated and hosted Court TV Law Center's former Legal Helpline. She is a frequent contributor to major business and legal publications, has appeared on CNN, Fox News, Today New York, good Morning America, MSNBC, Inside Edition, and many other news and talk shows around the country and speaks nationally and internationally on global technology and business issues. She has published more than 50 articles, and law journal articles. Welcome Parry, and nice to have you here.
Parry - Hi all...I'm honored to be here.
Parry - Teachers are the real players when it comes to online safety...
Tony B/CA - Parry, you feel that electronic commerce has reached a point where people can feel secure purchasing over the Internet? What are the primary considerations for an e-commerce hosting site. ...that's my one question, now I'll do my job ;)
Parry - People don't feel secure, but they should.
Parry - as long as you use a secure connection, you're probably a lot safer using your credit card online than handing it to your run of the mill gas station attendant.
Parry - an e-commerce site just needs to have a secure connection and teach people to feel safe.
Bob R/CA - Ms. Aftab (Parry) would you like to introduce yourself and say a few words about your background in this field?
Parry - Parry...please. I'm a lawyer in NY and NJ, and practice in Moscow Russia too. But I'm proudest of the fact that I am now working with cyberangels.
Parry - safety and education program in cyberspace.
Parry - I've also been working with schools lately, and just got back from the national link up amercia events.
Bob R/CA - tell us about cyberangels. Is there a link for this?
Parry - sure,
Parry - we have about 500,000 hits and 350,000 site visitors a month now.
Parry - we also have the best and most dedictaed and talented volunteers anywhere.
Bob R/CA - What is your involvement in the organization, specifically what do they do?
Parry - I'm the new executive director. We teach online safety.
Parry - we also have hunters and trackers, who find and track the child pornographers. And we have secure rooms and moms who monitor chatrooms on the web.
Bob R/CA - Parry, you also have a book out - Parents' Guide to the Internet - Care to tell us about this?
Parry - sure...I did a piece for CNN a year and a half ago.
Parry - and so many parents called me afterwards, I realized there was a need to teach them about the internet basics. All royalties on the book go to a foundation I set up for wheelchair bound children. It's my first book...and maybe my last<g>
Bob R/CA - Tell us what we can find out about in your book?
Parry - Just about everything you need to know... all about the internet and how to get connected, dangers and risks to kids and risks posed by kids online, solutions and suggestions, including filtering product reviews, and finally all the terrific things you'll find online.
Bob R/CA - Is the book targeted to teachers, parents, or everyone who has deals with kids?
Parry - all of the above<g>
Parry - it's a good basic manual. I even find myself referring to it. I needed compuserve's telephone number today, and viola!!
Ben - What do you mean by teachers are the real players when it comes to online safety, Parry? How can a user tell if a connection is secure?
Parry - Teachers are on the firing line every day...dealing with parents who are clueless about the Internet<g> and kids who know more than anyone else about it<g>  On the bottom left of your browser, there will be a key, if it's netscape. If it's broken it's not a secure connection, if it's in one piece it is. It tells you that the information is encrypted while in transit.
Mary K&1 - Parry, what are your impressions of the level of awareness that most parents have concerning the internet and their children's use of it. What are the kinds of questions that they ask?
Parry - We did a recent survey of 8,000 families in Baltimore County, Maryland. Most felt that they knew more than their children did. Overwhelminly, all wanted to know more about what their schools were doing online. Very few know about filtering products and what they can do, and even fewer use them. About 6% in my expereince. Most recognize the need for their children using the new technology. I have also been surprised to see that lower income parents are even more interested in their children having access to the Internet
Bob R/CA - Thanks. Parry does your book cover/offer "acceptable use" policies for teachers and schools?
Parry - Bob, no it doesn't, but I'm putting several up at the cyberangels site in our connect-ed pages shortly ... a reason you use the different provisions and how to adapt them to your needs. The best policies are at
Sandy/k/mo - what types of things were they wondering about the internet.. my kinders are on all the time with me ... the parents ... are they concerned about us using it ... just any parents.. from our community... rural there is some resistance...
Parry - not generally. They have a great deal of faith in what you're doing...
Parry - think anyone is telling them enough about what you're doing.
Parry - funny, I've seen the greatest resisitance in rural communities too.
Parry - Keep them in the loop, show them what you're doing... show them what you're doing to keep the kids in the good areas online.
Parry - Sandy, try doing a website with the kids and invite all parents to see it, we'll help with our lil angels team, if you want. Send me an e-mail and I'll suggest some things we can do.
Ben - What do you mean by filtering products Parry? Please explain! Are you referring to firewalls Boards may institute?
Parry - firewalls, proxie servers, server level blocking products (like Bess) and products like Net Nanny etc.
Ben - Do you have these listed in your book Parry?
Parry - sure, Ben, and at our site and the site and at children television workshop's site for parents.
Marjan/CDN - Parry, were any of these filters effective with the blocking of the Starr Report?
Parry - Marjan: Bess and SurfWatch gave schools and parents the ability to block the Starr report. Net Nanny and CyberPatrol and Cybersitter just used filtering technology to block the adult parts.
Mary K&1 - Parry, have you also surveyed students about their impressions of their parents' awareness?
Parry - yup. They univerally thought they knew more and that their parents were clueless.
Parry - But, frankly, isn't that what all kids think about everything?<g>
Bob R/CA - Parry, what advice can you offer to parents to help keep their kids safe on the Net?
Parry - other than reading my book?<g>
Parry - seriously<g>, don't panic.
Parry - l'm the parent and can disconnect the computer.
Parry - Computer in a central location.
Parry - Where they go, and who they talk to regularly
Parry - Teach them never to give out personal information and teach them what you consider personal information.
Parry - And they should never ever meet anyone in person they met online.
Parry - Make sure they understand the rules of online etiquette (netiquette)
J.P. - Do you think that by putting the Starr Report on the Internet - and on the Congressional site - that they're "muddied the waters" regarding "community standards" and pornography on the net ?
Parry - There's lots of information online that might be appropriate for adults that children shouldn't see.
Parry - for requiring all adults to be kept at a reading level appropriate for a twelve year old.
Parry - to teach their children how to screen information and how to ignore information that might even be in the NY Times.
Parry - it's a good opportunity to teach children your values about trust and honesty and fidelity.
Parry - but it's still odd that we're talking about blocking access to government servers, isn't it?
J.P. - I was wondering if court action against sites considered "pornographic" could now say, "Well, the Congress put some pretty graphic stuff up there."
Bob R/CA - I thought that was what you were getting at JP
Parry - The obscene sites (illegal pornogrpahy with no redeemable value, essentially) are still a far cry from the Starr Report and other legal adult material online. We always need to distinguish between legal material that consenting adults should be able to access and the illegla stuff that no one should be able to access, like kiddie porn.
Mary K&1 - Parry, are Chat Rooms the source of most problems and fears?
Parry - Mary, the chatrooms, instant messages and the IRC. Kids forget all the stranger danger stuff we teach them when they get involved in a chat. That's why we set up cybermoms, to help monitor chat rooms for kids, with live mom monitoring.
Lil-A - I am having trouble finding chat rooms for wheel chair bound children... any adeas?
Parry - Lil-A, check out my book, there's one site I liked, called, I think, (wonders on wheels) and I've just been told by someone that on Talk City they have a chatroom called #friends-with-disabilities.
Parry - know, LilA, we're building a chat for children with disabilities too.
Bob R/CA - Ok. Parry, do all filtering systems work the same? In your opinion, which is the best?
Parry - Bob, no they don't work the same. I like Net Nanny the best right now...since it allows parents and teachers to choos what to block and gives us the chance to see what they'v blocked and the ability to change it.
Parry - The others, genreally, won't show you which sites they blocked.
Parry - Since I don't trust anyone to make decisions for my kids except for me...I need to see the list.
Bob R/CA - Net Nanny is available here:
Ben - Parry you've mentioned a variey of filters fot the net. Are these available to the average user via the Net by simply downloading and installing! If so where?
Parry - Well, Ben you have the net nanny site here at the, and they probably benefit if you order it here. the others are at their names.,,
Parry - you can use them for free for 30 days, but do not install more than one on your computer at the same time, it somehow screws up the way they work.
Bob R/CA - (correct - a portion of that Net Nany link/purchase goes to Teachers.Net)
Tony B/CA - Thanks, Parry. You're absolutely correct.
Parry - Net Nanny is a big supporter of non-profits and Internet groups.
Kathy/5/IA - Are there safe chats for kids? We just got hooked to the Internet yesterday. I'd like my kids to be able to discuss books they are reading with others sometime.
Parry - sure, Freezone has one, - TalkCity another, AOL has kids only...use keyword kidsonly
Ashara - If you are using IRC, you can log onto talkcity at
Parry - Make sure they have live people moderating the chats, not robots/computers which miss stuff sometimes.
Parry - If there's a site you like with chat and no moderators, let us know. we lend out or cybermoms to help.
Kathy/5/IA - What do the cybermoms do?
Parry - Cybermoms are real life moms who sit in chatrooms watching kids, just like moms do in the playground, but our moms are specially trained to spot the bad guys. Kids under 13 should never be in an unmoderated chatroom, IMHO.
Kathy/5/IA - Is there a charge for lining up a cybermom? How do you know these are "safe moms".
Parry - No charge, Kathy. these are dedicated volunteers. We do full background checks before they're allowed online as a cybermom.
Tony B/CA - How do you recruit cybermoms?
Parry - Tony, people we meet online and off.
Kathy/5/IA - But what about "lurkers"
Parry - Lurkers are alwasy a problem, but we advise the parents of a younger child to block stranger e-mail and instant messages. Without the ability to contact the child directly outside the monitored chat, the lurker is outa luck.
Jady - Isn't it true that the only way you can really protect your kids is to be there with them?
Parry - Jady: be there or teach them to follow your rules when you're not there. Software might help, but there is no substitute for good training and safety education.
Kathy/5/IA - How do we contact you if we would need one?
Parry - Kathy, just send me an e-mail and we'll get you going.
Parry - we have a child online safety quiz at our site
Ben - Parry, I understand the use of cybermoms! However, are there any men that act in this same capacity?
Parry - Ben, no men yet.
Ben - Why?
Parry - Ben, we have learned that women are less likely to be pedophiles, approximately 85/15% men to women. We're playing the odds. But men can join our net patrols to ferret out the bad guys.
Tony B/CA - We want to thank Parry for spending this quality time with us. I know we have a few more questions, and we're going to leave this session open for a while to archive your further discussions.
Parry - thanks for letting me join you... it was fun.
Parry - Please let your teachers know we are building a page just for teachers, with a huge link to you guys, of course!<gg> the url is but is still only partly done.
Parry - a page at the site, has a resource on issues like acceptable use policies and teaching modules.
Bob R/CA - One more plug for your book, Parry - It's available on-line from at
Bob R/CA - Parry's website is
Ashara - Parry, is your book available in bookstores too?
Parry - yup, Barens & Nobles, Border and most others. The publisher is SC Press, so don't get it mixed up with other similarly titled books.
Parry - thanks for all the kind words, also stop by
Bob R/CA - Parry, do you have any more speaking engagements on the horizon? It was gerat to hear you speak at the White House Internet Summit this year.
Parry - I was the keynote speaker at CARU's online privacy and advertising to children conference last week, and a speaker at the Turner Broadcast at America Links Up. I also ran the launch event for ALU, at Baltimore County.
Parry - But most significantly...I held a chat with Mr. Toad on Disney last Friday.<g> protecting him from weasals online<gg>
Tony B/CA - Parry, THANK YOU. We will be inviting you back. I believe this has been an extremely useful and informative session. We appreciate your volunteer efforts to support teachers and parents in cyberspace.
Bob R/CA - Bye Parry :o)
Tony B/CA - goodnite, Parry.

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