Dear Subscribers:

Here's our lineup for this first week of '99:

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Web News Briefs

It wasn't the first student's case for free speech on the Internet, but it was the precedent-setting one. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a federal district court (the highest to decide on such a case yet) ruled that the Woodland School District in Marble Hill, MO, could not punish 17-year-old Brandon Beussink for criticizing school administrators and teachers in his Web site. The school had suspended him for 10 days, then flunked him for the semester because of his absence. US District Judge Rodney Sippel issued an injunction against the school to keep it from causing the suspension to affect Brandon's grades or attendance record. Students in two similar cases, a 1995 case in Washington State and one last spring in Ohio, also won, receiving financial settlements from their schools.

1998 was an Internet banner year not just for e-commerce, but for both education and the US government as well. The New York Times says educators agree that the "e-rate," that controversial federal program for subsidizing Internet connectivity in schools, was one of the biggest ed-tech stories of the year. In its turn-of-the-year story, the Times takes a thorough look at educators' and researchers' current thinking on technology and education and technology - well worth a homeschooler's or teacher's attention. As for the government, '98 was the year when Washington and the Internet "got acquainted", the Times found. Virtually every branch dealt with some aspect of the Internet, the Times says, from pornography prosecutors to consumer-privacy protectors at the FTC to would-be regulators in Congress.

They're everywhere! The Children's Television Workshop, provider of content for "networked families" in Web Crawler and Netcenter, will soon be a very prominent player in AOL's kid space as well. According to Interactive Week Online, CTW this week launches a partnership with America Online to become its family channel "anchor tenant" (a term spawned in America's shopping malls referring to those big department-store tenants that "anchored" the ends of the malls).

Great news for parents with children requiring computers: Prices will keep coming down, one info-tech market research firm is predicting. Looking ahead at Internet trends for '99, International Data Corp. sees PC prices dropping to around $400, according to Reuters, via Wired News. IDC also says more than half of US households will have a PC this year, Internet use will rise to 147 million users, and e-commerce will more than double to $68 billion.

Nominees for the "Oscars of the Internet" - the "Webby Awards" - have been announced, and ZDNET has the list. Many of these are well-known Web sites -, Salon, Gap Online, iVillage, and The Global Schoolhouse - but you may find some very useful sites on the list that are new to you and yours. Webby winners will be announced at the awards ceremony, March 18. We'll revisit some of these in future reviews. And send us your own reviews for possible publication, via!

A good ending to a difficult story: Wired News reprinted a San Francisco Chronicle piece about a missing 17-year-old California girl who was found with a man whom police believe she met in an online chat room. The man was arrested for "enticing a minor to cross state lines to engage in sexual activity and for aiding and abetting the travel." The FBI told the Chronicle that he'd instructed her to remove her computer's hard drive before leaving home to blot out evidence of their online conversations.

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Some stats

College students' favorite job-search sites are emerging, according to WebTrendWatch, a useful weekly service at Editor & Publisher's Web site. The Top 3 are JobDirect, JOBTRAK, and hotjobs. JobDirect, cited by 41.9% of students surveyed, is at least twice as popular as each of the others is. Features to be found in many of the services include job browsing, job search, and online resume creation for students and employee search for employers. The survey, conducted by Memolink Inc., a market research firm in Denver, shows that students are spending four hours a week online looking for jobs.

Another interesting survey - about online alcohol ads targeting children - featured in the latest WebTrendWatch was done by our friends at the Center for Media Education. CME found that such ads targeting both children and young adults under age 21 have nearly doubled in the last 18 months.

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A friend of The Sage Family recommended a Web site he's found very useful. It's a virtual library created by a librarian and maintained by a library. There are many of these Web "white lists" (as opposed to black lists) out there (including an excellent one compiled by the American Library Association).

This one - a list of more than 4,000 Web sites - has the endorsement of a peer and regular user, it's constantly updated, screened by tough customers (librarians), and subjected to tough criteria. The Librarians' Index to the Internet, a project of the California State Library, is the brainchild of former librarian and Internet research consultant Carol Leita.

Here are only some of the tough questions the librarians who evaluate these sites ask themselves (in the categories of site content, scope, authority, and design): Is the information on the site accurate? Does it contribute something unique to the subject? How frequently is it updated? What are the author's qualifications? Is the site's purpose clear? Is it easily navigable? In fact, these are good questions for teaching any child critical evaluation. To that purpose, here's a direct link to the librarians' criteria page. All this of course does not mean that there's nothing controversial in the sites in the Librarians' Index; what it does guarantee is that all these sites have been found truly useful. On the Internet, you can't get much better than that, can you? Please send us your favorites sites or white lists, and be sure to tell us why - via

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Here's a meaty activity for parents and teens: Take a course in investing together - at home, whenever your schedules intersect (probably the toughest part!). According to Editor & Publisher, Dow Jones has a new site it calls Dow Jones University, offering online courses in topics like stock analysis taught by Wall Street Journal and Barron's editors and correspondents. The courses cost $49 each.

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This week from Parry Aftab of CyberAngels:

We receive many reports of stalkings and harassment online. Kelley, CyberAngels' Deputy Executive Director, is also our resident stalking expert. When people report an egregious stalking or harassment situation, Kelley works with them. Recently, someone received death threats by e-mail. The person sending the threats knew where the recipient lived and what kind of car they drove - the kind of personal details that would frighten anyone. When Kelley traced the sender, she discovered the person was a pre-teen. This child was just playing online and had no idea how seriously he had frightened the recipient. Apparently, he attends school with a child in the recipient's household and thought this was a fun joke to play. Luckily, when Kelley contacted him, the boy's parents took his action very seriously. The child lost Internet access for a considerable time and had to work with us on Internet safety training.

As parents, we too often focus on what can happen to our children and rarely think about what our children can do to others online. We suggest you talk to your kids. Remind them that when they send out a threatening message, even as a joke, it can have serious consequences. Also remind them that these things can be traced, and they aren't as anonymous as they think they are. Teach them to respect others online and off. Interestingly enough, it's usually the "good kids" who get into this kind of trouble - the ones who don't ordinarily get into trouble anywhere else. It's this generation's equivalent of ordering pizza for the grumpy old man down the street or making crank phone calls to people you don't like. But since, when they're online, recipients of death or bomb threats can't tell the difference between a child's prank and the real thing, the threats have far more serious consequences.

[Editor's note: CyberAngels has been asked to attend the UNESCO conference on child pornography in Paris later this month. They'll be sending us a report on the conference soon.

Material supplied by our partners, CyberAngels, reflects their views, not necessarily those of The Sage Family. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us.]

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That does it for this week. Have a great weekend.

The Sage Family

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