Parents Internet Guide - Parental Controls

A Parent's Guide to the Internet and it's Dangers to Children, and Parental Controls software information.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Ruling Could Change How Police Target Sex Offenders

A federal judge in Kansas is has questioned the legality of the way police target online sexual predators. Since the police pose as kids in chat rooms, the predators are not literally propositioning children (even though they believe that they are). If this ruling stands the only way police would be able to entice these predators is to actually use children in the sting operations, which the police department says they will never do. Currently, prosecutors are working up and appeal to the ruling.

Now, this decision only applies to the state of Kansas, but that doesn't mean that other states, or even the federal government, won't follow suit if the ruling sticks. I don't know enough about the law to really debate this topic, but it would seem to me that if the predator really believed to be speaking with a child it shouldn't matter who is actually using the chat room screen name. I hope this ruling falls through or the police can come up with another creative way to stop these criminals. It is a bad system to not be able to go after a predator until after they have solicited their prey.

In light of this news, parents need to be ever more diligent when it comes to the Internet. Find out where your children are going and who they are talking with before its too late!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Teens are the Easiest Identity Theft Targets

Over 10 million people were victims of identity theft last year and young people with no credit records were the number one target. Teenagers and young people are more vulnerable to identity theft than adults because most have not established credit records that can be monitored. Read more.

As it stands, getting background info about a person online is fairly simple, teens who readily give out their personal information are basically handing over their identity to possible thieves. Repairing the damage can take as long as ten years and can hinder some kids from going to college, as they will not be able to take out loans for tuition.

Some Prevention Tips:

  • Check credit reports once a year from all credit agencies.
  • Carry your social security card with you at all times.
  • Delete without replying to any suspicious e-mail requests
  • View more...

If your teen does fall victim to identity theft, find out how to recover at the Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization.


Monday, August 29, 2005

From SheKnows.com

Mom and Dad, wake up: If you assume your child is using that fancy home computer to stimulate his brain, think again. The hottest new trend has kids using those keyboards to send vile, hateful and highly slanderous messages about their peers through the Internet. Once confined to playgrounds, bullying has hit cyberspace, cell phones and pagers, and it's both serious and sophisticated. So what should a parent do if their child is cyberbullied?
To find out, read the article. See just how common place cyberbullying really is.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

From The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

One in five children ages 10 to 17 receives unwanted sexual solicitations online, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The NCMEC provides these Internet safety tips for online users:
  • Don’t give out personal information about yourself, family situation, school, telephone number or address.
  • Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone you first “meet” in a chat room unless your parents or guardians have said it’s OK.
  • A way to avoid harassment in a chat room 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.
  • If you become aware of the sharing, use or viewing of child pornography online, immediately report it to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.
  • When in chat rooms, remember that not everyone may be who they say they are. For example, a person who says “she” is a 14-year-old girl from New York may really be a 42-year-old man from California.
  • If someone harasses you online, says anything inappropriate or does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, contact your Internet service provider.

Tips for parents from the NCMEC:

  • Establish guidelines and rules. n Know who communicates with your children.
  • Familiarize yourself with the programs your children are using.
  • Consider using Internet filters or blocks.
  • Place the family’s computer in a common room.
  • Explain to your children that Instant Messenger is only for chatting with school and family friends who are known personally and are approved by you.
  • Make sure they can put a face to every screen name on their IM “buddy list.”
  • Reinforce that people are not always who they say they are when online.
  • Make sure your children know how dangerous it is to give out personal information such as their names, mailing addresses or e-mail addresses.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Milwaukee Boy Rescued from Phoenix Internet Predator

It happened again. An investigation ensued when a 13-yr.-old boy turned up missing. Police found communication between the boy, from Milwaukee, and a Phoenix man, Vernon Monk, on the boy's computer. The Monk used the Internet to lure the boy to him in Phoenix. Read the article. The article references cybertipline, as I also have done.

Its becoming more and more common to see this kind of thing happen. With the Internet making people anonymous it is increasing easier for predators to meet children this way. Parents need to know what their kids are doing online. Please see Parental Controls Software Review to learn what is right for your family.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Help Delete Online Predators

CyberTipline, a site that handles leads from individuals reporting sexual exploitation of minors, is working with the adcouncil on a campaign to stop online sexual predators, HDOP: Help Delete Online Predators. This campaign gives parents advice on how to talk to your child about being safe online. Also included are true stories. Here is an excerpt from a mother talking about her daughter meeting up with a predator she had met in a chat room:
But something told Sara the ordeal wasn't over. She said, "Three weeks later this man came to our home. [Amy] slipped out...with him. He had continued to contact her and it wasn't until this meeting that the man assaulted [Amy], in a motel in our town."
They have included a downloadable reference to online lingo. Even when the computer is located in a central room in the house, kids will use acronyms and abbreviations when talking with friends online. They do this, mainly, so parents or siblings won't be able to read over their shoulders and know what they are saying. You may have seen something like, WIBNI meaning 'Wouldn't it be nice if...' or maybe TTYL meaning 'Talk to you later...'.

Lastly, the HDOP site offers and easy to use reporting system, through cybertipline, if you suspect an online predator. This is a site every parent should have bookmarked. It's a relief to see such positive strides in the right direction when it comes to Internet safety for our children.

Friday, August 19, 2005

CyberAngels

Have you experienced a cyber crime or think you may have? If so, please visit cyberangels.org, one of the oldest online safety educational communities. This site offers comprehensive on and offline programs for educators, community groups, parents and kids. They also offer general advice and people to look out for. Plus, they have an area specifically to report cyber crimes and a support center for cyber crime victims. Established in 1995, this site has grown with the Internet, being the first to uncover and report new crimes and problems as they emerge.

I'm adding this link to my so please reference this site periodically to keep yourself up to date on what's happening online.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Latest Internet Crime

A 22 year old Missouri is accused of raping a minor whom he met through a chat room. Read the article for details.

This type of crime will not stop. It's such a simple way to for predators to get to children. Kids need to be taught to be safe online and parents need to monitor what their children are doing online. In this case, the man drove to the girl's house, called her and asked her to come outside. After she did so, she agreed to take a drive with him around the neighborhood, never once being suspicious of him until he started driving her out of familiar areas. Children need to know that the people they meet online aren't all necessarily good. We teach children to be weary of real life strangers. That same principle should go for online strangers as well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Web Etiquette

I ran across an article by Deborah Radcliff posted on msn.com. She gives advice to parents about teaching Netiquette to teens and offers real life examples of, not only hurt feelings, but criminal offences cause by kids online. Now I've covered quite a bit of what she discusses in this article, but I thought showing that this topic has gotten all the way to main stream media may help drive home the point that cyberbullying is a serious problem.

Read the article and check some of my links and previous posts for additional tips and advice.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Safer Surfer

A new site, safersurfer.org, has emerged. The site provides easy to navigate statistics and tips as well as procedures to report suspicious sites and/or people. They offer a chatroom tip of the week, that's great for parents who need some guidance. Plus they offer free paper materials if you want them.

I've added them to my list of links so you won't have to bookmark this entry. Check them out, they have some interesting things to say.

Friday, August 12, 2005

First Ever Cyberbully Summit

This event is hosted by Wired Safety and will take place in Westchester County. It is a nationwide summit and will be discussing everything from "Internet, cell phone and interactive technology safety, privacy and security." Also, Wired Safety Director Parry Aftab is willing to hold similar summits in your local community. Simply send an e-mail to events@wiredsafety.org for more information.

To learn more about cyberbullying, what it is and what affects is has please read a previous post, Cyberbullying - A Problem for Everyone. Also check out wired safety's cyberbullying section or check out Netbullies.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Food for Thought

Its not surprising that more than one teen chat/forum website has been upset by this blog. What I think most of them fail to do is their research. They don't actually follow my posts or actually read up on the topics I discuss. They make grand assumptions. For instance, a while back "crux" tried to teach me about his technical supremacy but simply by following his links I found out a great deal of info that I'm sure he didn't think I could or would find.

J-Revolution was the next to become agitated by what I have to say. While these young adults were much smarter in their approach than crux was, they still failed to do the research that somebody with a bit more life experience would, I think. The biggest mistake they made was in assuming that since I am older, I would not have their technical prowess. See, I go by a pseudonym on all of the blogs I author simply so that my personal info doesn't leak out. I sincerely hope that they haven't harassed Ms. McCoy too much, poor girl. I felt it was best to take her personal info down for that reason.

In both instances what these teens actually did was prove my point. This is what kids do online. This is how they act. This is why parents should teach Netiquette, get acquainted with their kids' favorite sites, learn how to use IMs, chat rooms, blogs, P2P sites, and forums and teach kids how to be safe and smart about what they do online. Do you want your child cyberbullying and posting other people's info? Or how would you feel if your child was the one being bullied because they put too much of themselves online?

I will say again, although I'm sure my loyal readers will know by now, that I think the Internet is a great resource. I author three blogs, I use multiple instant messengers, I surf sites regularly, so it would be hypocritical of me to suggest that these things are "bad". Simply, I think that teens need to be taught to safeguard themselves. They also need to learn that what they do online will follow them throughout their lives. Many colleges and employers now do web searches on prospective students/employees. What will they find on your child?

Another Dies From Too Much Gaming

This time it was a 28 year old man from South Korea who spent 50 hours in an Internet Cafe playing online games, stopping only to use the restroom and take quick naps. If it takes 50 hours to kill a 28 year old how brief a time would it take to kill a teenager? As I posted before in Computer Games Kill?? it only took a Russian teenager 12 hours of non-stop play before he had a heart attack. This is why it is so important to limit the amount of time your child spends online.

Gaming addictions are common in kids as well as adults. Please visit the International Game Developers Association for more details.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What One Mother Says

Back from vacation! We had a blast and it's hard to get back to the daily grind, though we must. To make my life a little easier, I found a blog entry written by a mother stating her opinion on monitoring kids online. This mother has a 12 year old son.

Please read Joy's Page.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Vacation!!

As of tomorrow afternoon I will be in Las Vegas with Joe for 5 days, so I will be unable to update until I get back. It should be a good time. I need a vacation for serious!

Until I return... ;)

How Much Online Time is Too Much?

An article released in a Connecticut newspaper revealed that many teens are spending of 10 hours a day online, particularly on instant messengers, in chat rooms or involved in role-playing games. It's a well known fact that kids need to spend time socializing in person and they need to spend time outside. As I previously wrote in computer games kill, computer addictions in teenagers are not uncommon and can be health detrimental.

The best way to keep kids from spending all their time online is to monitor and limit that time. Parent Tools for AIM has a built in time limiting function that allows you to specify what time your child can sign into the program and how long they can use it before it turns itself off. This function is password protected.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Internet Safety and Child Protection Act

The new stats from Pew Internet and American Life Project say that the number of teens online has increased 25% in just 5 years. That's 87% of kids ages 12-17. The teens surveyed said that they prefer IM to email hands down, whereas adults where of the complete opposite opinion. Interesting indeed. Here's my favorite IM monitoring software.

With such a continuous upward rise of tech savvy teens, Sen. Blanche Lincoln has introduced the Internet Safety and Child Protection Act of 2005. Basically, this legislation would make it more difficult for minors to have access to online pornography. The bill proposes age verification requirements for all adult sites and a 25% sales tax added to Internet porn transactions. This seems to be a smart step.

If you follow the above links some startling statistics are revealed.