You came across the acronym in an instant messaging conversation that your child was having with you on your computer. “PAW,”Would you be able to decide what to do with it?

You’re not the only one. Many parents are beginning to realize that cyberbullying and predators have become a major presence online. This means that the old discussion about crossing the street safely is becoming more tech-savvy.

A study done by CA, Inc., National Cyber Security Alliance in 2006 on social networking shows that 51 percent parents are aware of their children’s use of social media sites. They don’t allow their children to view their profiles except their closest friends. A further 36% of parents did not monitor their children’s social networking accounts, according to the survey.

CA has teamed up with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to donate Internet security software to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country and to offer parents and caregivers the following simple tips to help them monitor their children’s Internet activity:

* Surf the Web together. Ask your child to tell about what they have done online. Make it interesting and display genuine curiosity.

* Familiarize yourself. Show them their online profile, favourite chat rooms, and friends.

* Learn the lingo. Here are some common chat acronyms “PA”(Parent Alert). “PAW”(Parents are Watching)

* Inform. Explain why children should never share passwords, even with friends. Inform your child not to click on attachments and links sent via email unless they have the sender’s name. Use caution even in such cases.

* Fight cyber-bullying. You can watch for signs of cyberbullying such as your child getting agitated after using the computer. Learn how to respond by saving chat logs, and contacting the cyberbully’s Internet provider.

* Establish control. You can place your computer in the living area or another common space. Install parental controls, including Web filtering and time restrictions. Also, create a separate sign on name for your child.

You can find more information on this initiative at