Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Internet would not be censored. That means that pornography and risque Web pages are free to be perused by children.
President Clinton has called for standardized electronic blocking system like the V-chip planned for television, but that does not solve immediate concerns by parents who must decide whether their children are safe to travel solo on the information highway.
Several teenagers who surf the Net talked with DEBORAH BELGUM about what they explore on the Internet and whether parents should monitor them.
17, Hermosa Beach
The Supreme Court's decision was probably the wiser one because I know there are ways to get around restrictions. I think it is virtually impossible to regulate the Internet. It is really easy to get around anything.
I don't really agree with the Supreme Court decision on the basis of the 1st Amendment. I don't think it is a 1st Amendment right to have access to pornography, especially if you're a kid.
Right now, at school they're trying to regulate pornography by putting in a proxy server that basically filters out anything with adult language or sites that are known to have pornography on them.
If a parent is concerned about their child looking at stuff, they should become computer literate to understand what Web pages are and where they are. There are a bunch of products you can put on a home computer to prevent going to a site.
14, Redondo Beach
I spend about one hour a week on the Internet, more if I have a major report to do for school. I sometimes go to the chat rooms to fool around or if I know my friends are all going to go into this one chat room and talk. The chat rooms are real good if you're grounded from the telephone.
I think the Supreme Court decision is good. They put the Internet out there for a purpose so that we could see and learn as much as possible. If parents are worried, they should be with their kids when they are on the Internet. They should wander in every so often and check up on their kids.
Kids our age are going to see it [pornography] one way or another. But the Internet is not going to be their first choice for finding pornography.
16, Redondo Beach
I've been on the Internet for about a year. I go to the rap pages. They sometimes have music videos or things about the musicians such as Ice Cube and Snoop Doggy Dogg. You learn about stars' lives and what is coming up, like their new CDs and movies.
The Supreme Court decision was good because the Internet was created to explore and I don't think they should ban anything on it.
I think parents should be kind of concerned, but they shouldn't freak out. There are a lot of people who put weird things out on the Internet, such as Charles Manson who had his own Web page.
I think kids are mature enough to handle the Internet because we're treated like adults at school so why not on the Internet.
If parents are really concerned, they should try to lock down their computer at home or whatever. It would be a good idea for someone to come up with something like a V-chip.
14, Seal Beach
I've been using the Internet for about two years. I use just the chat rooms, like the Red Dragon Inn, which is medieval times, and play games. I talk to my friends in my private chat rooms.
I guess they should censor the Internet. For a lot of things, you can get a trial membership for a month to go into a Web page. They should have the Internet uncensored for people who have bought the month's subscription to the Web page and censored for the people who go and find the free sites. Some of my friends at school try to find free sites.
I don't know of anyone who goes to the pornography sites. I guess they keep it to themselves. You don't get popular talking about things like that.