Cox Effort Helps Parents 'Take Charge’

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Cox Communications Inc. is launching a new public-affairs program designed to help parents control the content their kids see on television and the Internet, partnering with America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh to star in a new series of public-service announcements.

The cable company — which conducted research that found 85% of parents say they’re concerned about the images their kids see on TV and the Internet — also added a section to its Web site (www.cox.com/takecharge) that gives parents tips for monitoring their kids.

Walsh, who first worked with Cox about 20 years ago when he produced a series of public-safety spots for the company, lauded Cox’s efforts.

COX STEPPED UP

“They’ve figured out that they have a responsibility to say, 'If you don’t like the content, you’re worried about what’s popping up on your computer, if you’re worried about what’s happening on the phone, we’re going to give you solid, concrete, proven tools and tips on how to deal with it,’ ” he said.

Walsh said Cox paid him a nominal fee to work on the program, and agreed to donate $500,000 worth of PSAs for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which was founded by his wife.

Walsh became an advocate for children after his son, Adam, was kidnapped and murdered in 1981.

Cox said it formed the “Take Charge” program after Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl on Feb. 1, which sparked a backlash from both viewers and legislators about TV content.

Its research found that more than 30% of parents surveyed said they are now more concerned than before Jackson’s halftime show.

MUCH WEB CONCERN

The research also found that Web sites were the top concern for 40% of parents, outranking concerns about TV programs, movies, video games and print media.

Cox said 71% of respondents were interested in having a printed or online guide to help identify appropriate content, in addition to how to block inappropriate content.

Cox’s Take Charge Web site contains information that parents can use for monitoring how their kids use the television, the Internet and the telephone.

In the telephone section, Cox advises parents to remind kids not to talk to strangers and to never release personal information or tell the caller that they are at home alone.

It also reminds parents that Cox Digital Telephone allows them to block 900-exchange toll phone calls.

The TV advice section contains information on how to use a V-chip and Cox’s parental control features on cable set-tops and other tips.

Cox offers 10 tips for managing Web content in the Internet section. They include posting “house rules about using the Internet” near a computer monitor; using filtering or monitoring software; talking with children about “never meeting a new online friend face-to-face”; selecting child-friendly search engines; and telling kids who are music fans not to share copyrighted materials illegally.

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