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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Heading Off To College

By the time your child finishes high school it is fair to assume they will have a pretty good grasp of the digital world that now surrounds them. They may not be avid video gamers but they will know the difference between a Wii and PS3. They may not even have a Facebook page but they will certainly be active online. It is already virtually impossible to complete numerous high school projects or homework assignments without being able to navigate the Internet for background information and research.

And this is a good thing. Because should be they lucky enough to land a place at a higher education institute, then for several reasons having regular access to a computer and the Internet is a must.

First, numerous colleges now use the Internet as a "library" of essential course work information. Everything from lecture notes to source references to full-blown transcripts are being made available to students over the web.

Secondly, as reported in the New York Times, colleges are starting to increase the number of online courses offered, as the cost of gas and other travel expenses continue to rise.

And lastly, most colleges now have an overwhelming number of information sites, online discussion groups, social networking pages, and web-based help resources devoted to every imaginable student need and activity. And these are not just for the college years. A well-developed and maintained Facebook page can one day morph into a great data base once campus has been left far behind - and not just for those 5-year reunions!

Stay In Touch

It is also a good idea to make sure that your college kids have a web-enabled cell phone or "smart phone" to ensure they can pick up important information on the go. It's a great way for kids to feel that they still have their trusted family network supporting them during those first chaotic weeks in the unfamiliar world of a college campus.

And, as was sadly highlighted in the Virginia Tech tragedy, numerous colleges now use email as the front-line communication tool when they need to get the word out to students in a hurry.

Letting Go

And for those parents that are still worried about letting their kids wander the Internet without restraint or who are concerned about all those new "friends" appearing on their not-so-little one's MySpace page? Well, maybe it's time to let go and hope that all the good work you did during the tween and teen years has paid off in good judgment and smart decision-making. Unfortunately, most parents need to be more concerned about $2 Friday night beers than anything their kids might come across on the World Wide Web!

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