(Copyright ABC 7 News)

WABC Eyewitness News

(New York -WABC, January 24, 2006) _ Millions of teenagers go online every day, and most are safe. The way to stay safer is to understand the dangers and follow some simple rules to help steer clear of trouble.

Tips for kids:

On the web:
1. Some web sites ask for information about you. The site may ask for your name, your mailing address, your E-mail address, and other information before letting you in. Never enter any information about yourself without first checking with your parents or guardians.

2. If you download anything from a web site, be extra careful. Programs or "plug-in" can invade your privacy by tracking what you’re doing online. They can also plant viruses or increase your risk of a "hacker attack." Don’t download anything unless you’re certain it is from a trustworthy source.

3. If you do post something on the web, be sure to never include your home address, telephone number, school name, or photograph. If you do want people to be able to contact you online, just give a nondescript E-mail address, but make sure you have your parents’ or guardians’ permission first.

In Chatrooms:

A chatroom is probably the most dangerous area on the Internet. You never know who is in one, so never type anything you wouldn’t say in public. To put it bluntly, chatrooms, especially those used by teenagers, are sometimes also used by child molesters to find victims. 65 percent of incidents happen in chatrooms.

1. Never give out personal information and never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone you first "meet" in a chatroom unless your parents or guardians have said it’s OK.

2. Stay away from chatrooms that get into subjects associated with sex or cults or groups that do potentially dangerous things.

3. A smart way to avoid harassment in a chatroom is to choose a name that doesn’t let people know if you’re a girl or guy. Just make sure the name doesn’t let anyone know anything about you or mean something that may encourage others to bother you.

4. Online enticement of children for sexual acts is a serious offense. If you are approached in this way, immediately report it to the CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com or by calling 1-800-843-5678.

Tips for parents:

If you’re the parent or guardian of a teenager, you may feel teens don’t need the same restrictions and controls as younger kids. However, teens are more likely to explore; they’re more likely to reach out to others besides their peers; and, sadly, they’re more often preyed upon as victims by child molesters and other exploiters.

1. Talk with your teens about what they can and cannot do online. Be reasonable and set reasonable expectations. Try to understand their needs, interests, and curiosity. Remember what it was like when you were their age.

2. Be open with your teens, and encourage them to come to you if they encounter a problem online. If your kids tell you about someone or something they encountered, work with them to help them avoid problems.

3. Learn everything you can about the internet. Ask your teens to show you what’s cool. Have them show you great places for teens and fill you in on areas you may benefit from as well. Make "surfing the Net" a family experience. Use it to plan a vacation, pick out a movie, or check out other family activities.

4. Check out blocking, filtering, and ratings applications. As you may know, there are now services that rate web sites for content. There are also filtering programs and browsers that empower parents and guardians to block the types of sites they consider to be inappropriate. These programs work in different ways. Some block sites known to contain objectionable material. Some prevent users from entering certain types of information such as their name and address. Other programs keep your children away from chatrooms or restrict their ability to send or read E-mail.

Some filtering software programs to check out: Net Nanny, CyberPatrol

5. Place the family’s computer in a common room where supervision and guidelines are met.

6. Explain to your children that Instant Messenger (IM) is only for chatting with school and family friends who they know by face and are approved by you.

Sources: Don’t Believe the Type, Help Delete Online Predators

More resources:

  • Wired Safety
  • HDOP: Help Delete Online Predators
  • Don’t Believe the Type: For Parents and Guardians
  • www.netsmartz.org
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Report an Online Predator Now
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  • Teenagers SHOULD NOT be permitted unmonitored internet access. PERIOD, NO EXCEPTIONS!! The risk is deadly, and there is simply no excuse. Here are a few tips for parents, based on my own experience and advice passed along from others:

    1. Talk to your children about their internet use and the dangers. Discuss stories such as these. Read the FBI’s website and warnings. Scare your kids into believing the risks are real.

    2. Keep computers in common rooms.

    3. Search MySpace, Xanga, Livejournal and other personal web pages for your teen’s profile. If you do not find their actual name, do not stop there. Search their friends’ names and look for profiles on their friends’ pages that might belong to your child.

    4. Search your browser’s history, cookies and cache for personal weblog pages.

    5. If you have instant messaging services such as Yahoo or MSN, set the options to auto-log chat sessions. Better yet, prohibit the use of IM except under controlled circumstances such as homework discussions. If you have AIM, you cannot enable auto-logging, and for that reason alone I would caution against allowing teens to use AIM.

    6. If you find your teen has been active on IM or personal web pages without your knowledge, CONFRONT THEM. So, they are angry that you were ‘snooping’? Teenagers have no right to privacy as to their internet use, and if you succumb to that argument from a teenager, you need to revisit your role as a parent.

    7. Stay involved and stay informed. Know your kids’ friends, friends’ parents, interests and hang-outs.

    As children grow, we cannot monitor them 24/7. But we can control what goes on in our own homes, and we are in control of what we teach and model for our children. It can make the difference between life and death. It’s that serious.

    Resources:
    FBI on internet safety/for teens grades 6-12. This is a must-read!
    FBI on internet safety for chilren grades K-5
    FBI: A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety
    Comprehensive list of sites with advice on internet safety.

  • If you know about a child who is in immediate risk or danger, call local law enforcement. If you have any information about a missing child, call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

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    Hope this info is useful….

     

    MR. B

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