Does everyone really have one? If they don't own one, they definitely use one. Even kindergartners regularly work with computers in school. And 60 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 have their own desktop or laptop. By the time they enter junior high, many kids will be more computer-savvy than their parents.
What age to start: Can your preschooler move the mouse? Then she’s ready. Of course, you should supervise and stick to safe sites, like pbskids.org, which is developed to be educational, and kideoplayer.com, a site where they can shuffle through kid-friendly YouTube clips just by pressing the space bar.
As they grow up: Parental worry really sets in when children learn to type and―deep breath―navigate the Internet. Once they do, look into kid-safe software that limits children to a universe of preselected sites, like Norton’s new Online Family (onlinefamily.norton.com), which is free to download until January 2010.
Causes for concern: Even preteens consider access to social networks like Facebook a constitutional right. Make sure they understand basic safety rules: Never reveal personal information (even which school they attend). And think twice―make that three times―before posting photos they wouldn’t want the whole world to see.