But if he doesn’t know how to judge the bad sites from the good, he may end up wasting valuable homework time. To help him become an intelligent Web surfer, show him how to think critically about what he encounters online:

  • Remind him to “consider the source” when looking something up. Is it a commercial site (in other words, is it trying to sell something or push an agenda)? Are there misspellings? Was the site last updated months or even years ago?

  • Encourage him to do what journalists do: Verify his information through other sources. For example, if he discovers an outrageous “fact” about the solar system on one site, he should be able to find mention of it on other sites. That is, if it truly is a fact. (And when your child does cite an online source in his schoolwork, be sure he gives a complete URL, along with the author’s and publisher’s name, if available.)

  • Take time to talk with him about something even more critical—online safety. Remind him to avoid chat rooms, not to disclose any personal information on sites requesting it, and, most important, to remember that online sources—and individuals—may be less than trustworthy.

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