How to Get the Most
Out of Going Online

Each day, millions of people like you participate in one of the most dynamic communities on the planet--the world of online services. It's a place full of fascinating people, innovative businesses and interesting ideas, all of which can enrich your life.

And, in online communities, just as in the real world, you decide where you want to go, when you want to go and how you're going to get there. It's easy. Just sign on and start exploring.

In many ways, what happens online is just a bigger, electronic version of everyday life in your town --or around the world. People come together to share ideas, make new friends, learn new things and conduct personal and professional business. And with new sites and new features being created everyday, there's always something new to do or explore.

Because online communities are a global network made up of diverse content and millions of users, they can sometimes resemble the real world in other, less desirable ways. In rare instances, like in the physical world, a few online users may be intent on abusing the rights of others or even breaking the law. And some content areas may contain material inappropriate for your preferences or your children.

The online industry firmly believes the best weapon against possible online abuses is an informed and empowered community of users. Likewise, the best way to protect children from inappropriate material is to empower parents, schools and other organizations with information on how they can effectively control and monitor children's access. That's why this brochure has been made available to you.

It's also why our companies, under the auspices of the Interactive Services Association (ISA) and in partnership with the National Consumers League (NCL), have established Project OPEN--the Online Public Education Network ™ --to help address and resolve issues important to all of us. Project OPEN members are committed to keeping online communities inviting, rewarding and secure places to visit.

Tips for Going Online

Here are some tips for going online:
BTW = By the way
IMO = In my opinion
IMHO = In my humble opinion
LOL = Laughing out loud
ROFL = Rolling on the floor laughing
&#60g>= Grin
&#60vbg>= Very big grin
CUL8R = See you later
TTFN = Ta-ta for now
With common sense as a guide, you and the children in your life will be online pros in no time!

Making the Net Work For Kids

The online world has so much to offer children--education, entertainment and interaction with young people around the world. Traveling in cyberspace, children can find a pen pal, get help with their homework, discover a hobby, become computer savvy and expand their horizons. And that's only the beginning.

But even though children will find a warm welcome online, it's important to remember that cyberspace is a worldwide public place where strangers can meet. Some content is intended solely for mature users. Parents should sit down with their children and explore the online world together before they turn children loose on their own. They may want to apply the same rules they would use in any situation where kids could meet people they don't know.

Commercial Online Services and Parental Controls

Many commercial online services include parental controls in their online features and make them available to all subscribers. Typically, these controls allow parents to limit children's access to certain parts of the service or Internet sites. Many services also let parents set up logs to monitor where their children have spent their time online. In addition, most consumer online services have specially designated areas for children.

The online industry is also working with a leading worldwide standards group to develop
a system for rating online content. Known as the Platform for Internet Content Selection, or PICS, the system allows groups to develop content ratings similar to the U.S. motion picture industry system for rating movies. For more information about the parental control features of some of the major online services, contact the appropriate numbers below.
America Online provides parental controls that let adults restrict access to all Internet, World Wide Web and America Online content except for the Kids Only Channel. It also blocks access to AOL chat rooms. Incoming Internet e-mail can be restricted, as well as access to specific Internet sites. AOL offers CyberPatrol to all its subscribers. For more information, use the KEYWORD "Parental Controls" while using the service or phone 1-800-827-6364.

AT&T WorldNetsm Service provides its subscribers with links to SurfWatch and CyperPatrol, commercial programs that enable parents to regulate their childrens' access to material on the Internet. The links, and information on the programs, are availavble in the "Help" sections of the AT&T WorldNetsm Service public website ( and the subscriber website ( For more information, phone 1-800-309-3349.

The Parental Controls Center offers CompuServe users the ability to restrict access to Internet services accessible through CompuServe, including Newsgroups, File Transfer Protocol, and Telnet, as well as selected services on the CompuServe Information Service that may contain adult-oriented content. Users can also direct Internet access via Cyber Patrol software by Microsystems Software, Inc. This Internet filtering software allows content blocking by content category, time of day, or specific Internet site. The latest version, Cyber Patrol 3.0, offers several new features, including ChatGuard, which prevents children from divulging personal information online, such as their name, phone number, e-mail address, and more. It also supports the new rating standard, RSACi. Download the software without connect-time charges and also recieve a one-year subscription ot Cyber Patrol's content review and update services. This is a $70 value offered free to CompuServe Information Service members. Cyber Patrol works with all browsers and with Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and Macintosh (System 7.x.) Additional information is available by using the CompuServe command GO PARCON while using the service to visit the Parental Controls Forum or phone 1-800-848-8990.

The Microsoft Network currently enables parents to block access to adult Internet content. Along with the other online services, the company is participating in the Platform for Internet Content Selection initiative. For more information on The Microsoft Network, phone 1-800-386-5550.

Prodigy has a new Access Control center that lets parents block a child's access to the World Wide Web, as well as PRODIGY chat, bulletin boards and instant messaging. Internet newsgroups are automatically blocked unless the household's adult subscriber chooses to authorize other family members to enter the area. Additional parental control features will be added this year. For more information, type the JUMP Words "Access Control" while you're using the service or phone 1-800-PRODIGY.

Direct Internet Access and Parental Controls

While some families and institutions access the Internet through an online service, others connect directly to the Internet using an Internet access provider. Internet access providers, like NETCOM, generally don't control access to content. As a result, parental control features must run on the user's own computer rather than on the access provider's computers. A variety of parental control software tools are available to those who use direct access services. Several of these products also work in conjunction with the commercial online services.

NETCOM offers customers a reduced rate subscription to Surfwatch content blocking software. In addition, NETCOM offers its customers with the Internet Explorer browser from Microsoft which comes complete with a filtering technology that the user must activate. NETCOM urges its customers who build web pages to rate their pages with the Safe Surf rating system as part of the building process. NETCOM provides Web links to educational sites, such as Project OPEN, and to producers of blocking and filtering software so that customers may easily find more information.

Listed below are some of the better known products.

Cyber Patrol--Microsystems Software, Inc.--(508) 879-9000

--Solid Oak Software, Inc.--(800) 388-2761

InterGO with KinderGuard--InterGO Communications, Inc.--(214) 424-7882
Net Nanny--Net Nanny Ltd.--(800) 340-7177

Net Shepherd--Net Shepherd Inc.--(403) 250-5310

Specs for Kids--NewView--(415) 299-9016

SurfWatch--SurfWatch Software, Inc.-- (800) 458-6600

Tattle-Tale--Pearl Software, Inc.-- (800) 732-7596
More information about protecting children online can be found in "Child Safety on the Information Highway," a brochure published by the Interactive Services Association and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Phone 1-800-843-5678 for a copy.

Empowerment Tools for Schools and Businesses

Many organizations are concerned about the availability of, not only inappropriate material, but also games, sports information, gambling sites and other content that may be unsuitable to access during school and work hours. For schools and businesses that have a computer network interconnected via a centralized computer (usually called a "server"), a number of resources are available for blocking access to inappropriate content. Two such resources are:
Netscape Proxy Server--Netscape Communications Corp.--(415) 528-2555

WEBTrack--Webster Network Strategies--(800) WNS-0065 (U.S. only)--941-261-5503

Project OPEN Welcomes Your Help

Project OPEN is committed to making your online experiences enjoyable. We welcome and encourage comments and suggestions.

We are available on the Internet through the World Wide Web site for the Interactive Services Association ( There you can explore Project OPEN electronically, send us an e-mail message, help us understand your needs and concerns more clearly and download or link to up-to-date Project OPEN materials.

If you would like to find out about obtaining bulk copies of this brochure, or about involving your organization in Project OPEN, call the Interactive Services Association at (301) 495-4955 or the National Consumers League at (202) 835-3323. Or, write us at: Project OPEN c/o Interactive Services Association, 8403 Colesville Road, Suite 865, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910. You can also send an e-mail message to:

We're counting on you to be our partner in building the worldwide community online. In the meantime, we'll see you online!

Project OPEN Partners

Project OPEN is a joint effort of the National Consumers League, the Interactive Services Association and leading online/Internet service companies. Its primary mission is to help the American public learn how to use online and Internet services in an informed and responsible way. In addition to NCL and ISA, Project OPEN's founding partners include: America Online (AOL), AT&T, CompuServe, The Microsoft Network, NETCOM On-Line Communication Services and Prodigy Services Company.

Established in 1899, the National Consumers League empowers consumers and workers to navigate the changing workplace and marketplace. The private, nonprofit membership organization relies on research, education and advocacy to help ensure a better quality of life for all Americans.
Established in 1981, the Interactive Services Association is the leading organization representing companies involved in delivering interactive services to consumers. Its members include major online and Internet companies, as well as companies involved in the delivery of interactive television, interactive telephone and screen telephone services.


Computer, Internet and online terms can seem like a foreign language to people who haven't been online. Here are some terms you may encounter as you begin to explore the online world.
Browser--A software program that allows you to interact with, navigate or "browse" the Internet.

Bulletin Boards--Public areas where you can post a message or comment for everyone else to read. Anyone can then post a reply for you and everyone else to read. Some services have restricted bulletin boards for limited audiences.

CD-ROM--A special disk looking and acting much like a music CD. It can contain multi-media such as sound, video, graphics and text.

Chat--A function that lets a group of people "talk" by typing messages to each other at the same time. This means everyone else in the group sees your message as soon as you send it.

Copyright--Legal protection for such forms of expression as literary, musical, software and other original works. Items not eligible by their nature include ideas, facts, titles, names, short phrases and blank forms. The vast majority of content on online services and the Internet is likely to be protected by copyright.

Cyberspace--A term used to refer to the digital world of online services and the Internet. Sometimes called the "digital highway" or the "information highway."

Downloading--The process by which information is acquired by your computer from another computer (such as an online service's main computer). (See also uploading.)

Electronic Mail--Commonly referred to as e-mail, this lets you send messages from your computer through the online service or the Internet to one or more other computers, known as "addresses." Addressees receive your messages in a private electronic "mailbox."

Freeware--Software intended by its authors to be freely distributed to the person downloading it. Freeware almost always has conditions for its use attached to it.

Home Page--The main or first "page" of material that appears on your screen when you arrive at the Internet "home" of a company, institution or individual after entering a specific Internet address, such as

Internet--A network of computer networks around the world. No central authority governs its use.

Modem--A device that lets your computer "talk" to another computer with your telephone. It stands for MOdulator/DEModulator.

Newsgroups--Topic groupings for articles and information posted by readers of that group.

Online--Being connected to one or more other computers, usually at a distant site, so that text, graphics, sound and other information can be sent back and forth very quickly. Today, being "online" usually means using a telephone line and a modem to connect to services. "I'm going online" is now a way of saying "I'm connecting to the world out there through my computer."

Parental Controls--Special features or software applications that empower adults to control the online activities of children. Most parental controls screen online content for certain key words, phrases or names and then block or restrict access to that content. Many controls have a password security scheme to prevent them from being disabled. Many also offer online monitoring and logging capabilities.

Password--A secret word or series of letters and numbers that must be used to gain access to an online service or modify certain software (such as parental controls). Just like a Personal Identification Number (PIN) at a cash machine, passwords should always be kept secret and never revealed online to anyone under any circumstances. You should change your password often.

Public Domain--When applied to a computer program or other electronic material (such as digital photos, sounds, etc.), it means the material may be freely used and copied without compensation to anyone. It's the opposite of copyrighted material, where the author retains control over how his or her work is used.

Server--A computer at the heart of a computer network. Many businesses and institutions rely on servers to interconnect and coordinate the flow of information among computers in individual classrooms or offices. These same servers may act as a gateway to the Internet as well.

Shareware--Copyrighted electronic material usually distributed on a "try it before you buy it" basis, often through downloading. If you decide to keep the material, you are obliged to send a fee (typically modest) to the copyright holder. Shareware usually takes the form of computer programs but may also include other computer resources such as fonts (typefaces) and sounds.

Software--Instructions for computers written as programs and other supporting information. Software can include functions such as word processing or content such as encyclopedias, games and more.

Uploading--The process by which information is sent from your computer--e.g., digital photos, sounds, documents, etc.--to another computer (such as the online service's computer).

World Wide Web--A way of linking text and graphics over the Internet.

Other Project OPEN Initiatives

Protecting Consumers--The online world isn't just a tremendous new way to exchange information. It also promises to revolutionize communications, education, banking, shopping and transactions of all kinds. Unfortunately, the online world also offers new opportunities to those few who seek to defraud consumers. As always, the best defense against these scam artists is to be skeptical--if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't be timid about asking for references and checking out anyone and anything suspicious before you commit to spending your hard-earned money. For further information or assistance, call the National Consumers League National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060.

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights--Going online literally brings a wealth of information to your desktop. Text, graphics, sounds, video and photographic images can be easily accessed, copied and stored.

But, with all of this information available, it can be difficult to determine if someone owns the work you just downloaded or wish to upload. A number of online services offer guidelines for fair use of copyrighted material and provide consumers with the service's own content. While most people might recognize the work of a famous author as "intellectual property" and would know not to use it commercially, the same might not hold for a sound clip, a picture or a less well-known piece of text. Respect for a creator's work is very important. The best rule of thumb is, "If in doubt, don't use it." Remember: Bytes have Rights&#153--respect intellectual property online.

Protecting Privacy--When you travel online, you often leave a digital "footprint" wherever you go. This is especially true if you shop online or engage in other activities, like chat sessions and newsgroups, where information such as your e-mail address can be obtained and used to promote products and services. You should understand your online privacy rights so that you can make informed decisions about when you may want to provide information about yourself.

Some consumers may be willing to share information about themselves in exchange for access to an Internet site. However, other users want a greater degree of privacy. Project OPEN's "protecting privacy" initiative will help consumers understand how to hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on their electronic doorknob.

ISA offers guidelines for online services to follow if they rent their subscriber mailing lists to third parties. A copy of the guidelines is available here.

Subscribers should check with their online service for details on its privacy policies.

In cooperation with ISA and NCL, the following education groups support Project OPEN's Parental Empowerment initiative:

· American Association of School Administrators
· National Association of Elementary School Principals
· National Association of Secondary School Principals
· National Education Association
· National School Boards Association's Institute for the Transfer of Technology to Education

Copyright © 1996 by the Interactive Services Association. All rights reserved. Project OPEN, the Online Public Education Network, "Making the NetWork for You," "Bytes have Rights," and the Project OPEN logo are trademarks of the Interactive Services Association.