As kids discover new ways to share information, they have unfortunately also found more ways to harm each other. According to Common Sense Media, a resource to help families teach kids how to be safe and smart with today’s media, cyber bullying has affected 43% of kids between the ages of 13 and 17. As holiday breaks approach and time online is likely to increase, parents can use tips from Common Sense to prevent cyber bullying or limit its damage

No more excuses – parental control software helps parents supervise their children’s computer usage, even when the parents are away from the computer, and the software is becoming simpler to use, according to TheOnlineMom.com.

Nearly everyone knows of a friend or neighbor’s child that stumbled across an inappropriate website or accidentally deleted important files. How can you make sure this doesn’t happen in your house? It’s easy… and getting easier, according to TheOnlineMom.com. And it’s even more important in this post-holiday season with new laptops and desktops received as gifts. Use this primer to learn about parental controls.

A long-awaited federal study finds that an estimated 32 million adults in the USA – about one in seven – are saddled with such low literacy skills that it would be tough for them to read anything more challenging than a children’s picture book or to understand a medication’s side effects listed on a pill bottle.

Though many communities are making strides to tackle the problem, it’s worsening elsewhere – in some cases significantly.

Overall, the study finds, the nation hasn’t made a dent in its adult-literacy problem: From 1992 to 2003, it shows, the USA added about 23 million adults to its population; in that period, an estimated 3.6 million more joined the ranks of adults with low literacy skills.

How low? It would be a challenge to read this newspaper article or deconstruct a fuel bill.

“They really cannot read … paragraphs (or) sentences that are connected,” says Sheida White, a researcher at the U.S. Education Department.

The findings come from the department’s National Assessment of Adult Literacy, a survey of more than 19,000 Americans ages 16 and older. The 2003 survey is a follow-up to a similar one in 1992 and for the first time lets the public see literacy rates as far down as county levels.

In many cases, states made sizable gains. In Mississippi, the percentage of adults with low skills dropped 9 percentage points, from 25% to 16%. In every one of its 82 counties, low-skill rates dropped – in a few cases by 20 percentage points or more.

By contrast, in several large states – California, New York, Florida and Nevada, for instance – the number of adults with low skills rose.

David Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy, an adult-literacy organization, says Mississippi “invested more in education … and they have done innovative programming. We need much more of that.”

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says efforts in adult literacy are inefficient and “scattered” across government agencies.

“We’re not using research-based practices, broadly applied,” she says.

Harvey cites undiagnosed learning disabilities, immigration and high school dropouts as reasons for the poor literacy numbers.

The findings are published online at nces.ed.gov/naal/estimates/index.aspx.  USA Today, 1/9/09