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Jeannette Prandi Children's Center
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Internet Concerns

Topics of Interest

Keeping Kids Safe - Click here for a slide presentation*
Questions Parents May Have - Click Here for a List of Questions Parents may have about Internet Safety
Resource Links - Click here for a list of resources parents and teens can use to help.
*Please note you will need Adobe Reader to open these files. If you do not have Adobe Reader, go to Adobe Reader.  It is a free download.



(Click on the question to see answers)



What Kids of risks does the Internet pose for my teen?

The Internet can be an excellent resource, but for teens it can also harbor significant risks, including Internet predators posing as teens in an attempt to get your son or daughter to meet them and/or expose them to lewd sexual images and sexual acts. There is also the potential for a ruthless Internet posting of personal information about your teen that could humiliate and embarrass them.

One startling finding in Online Victimization: A Report on the Nation’s Youth is that teens are not talking to their parents about upsetting things that are happening to them online. Some are not even talking to their friends. It is important that you convey to your teen that you are available to talk with them about any unpleasant experience or threat that they receive on the Internet.

View streaming- video that illustrate these points go to www.Netsmartz.org (http://www.Netsmartz.org) and look under real life stories.


How can I be better aware of the risks?

Just as you are aware of your teen’s day-to-day activities pertaining to school, sports, social events, you need to be engaged with your son or daughter about what they are doing on the Internet. Parents should evaluate and know their pre-teen and teen’s Internet friends, just as you would the friends that come to your home. Research indicates that most parents stop monitoring their teen’s Internet contacts at age 14 - just when they might be most vulnerable!

For more information check out www.missingkids.com (http://www.missingkids.org) . under “Child Safety” for their publication, Teen Safety on the Information Highway. Internet safety tips for teens can also be found at the FBI’s website, www.fbi.gov (http://www.fbi.gov) , look for Reports & Publications, find cyber issues, and look for A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety.

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Should I be monitoring my teens Internet use?

Not monitoring your child’s behavior on the Internet is like sending your teen to the big city without awareness about what they might run into. Teens are somewhat aware of the risk the Internet posses. However, given most teenagers’ attitudes and unwillingness to hear about these risks from a parent, advising them may be challenging. Use of the Internet is an area that most kids feel they know more about than their parent. This is precisely why it is critical for parents to become competent in Internet use in order to more effectively convey your concerns to your son or daughter.

It is also suggested by experts that if the computer in your home has access to the Internet it should not be in a teen’s room, but in a place in the home where you can monitor your teen’s use.

One quick way to get an education about the risks is to go to www.Netsmartz.org (http://www.Netsmartz.org) and look at the real life stories that are interesting and informative. Most kids respond favorably to them (Amy’s Choice, Julie’s Journey, Tracking Teresa). Browse www.Safekids.com (http://www.Safekids.com) .

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What is the risk to my teenanger?

In a study in 2000 (a revised 2005 addition is soon to be released) launched by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (www.missingkids.com) (http://www.missingkids.com) produced a report, Online Victimization: A Report on the Nation’s Youth, outlining three forms of risks to teenagers. These risks include Sexual Solicitation, Unwanted Exposure to Sexual Images and Harassment.

Sexual SolicitationUnwantedrequests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk or give personal sexual information, many of which are made by adults.

Unwanted Exposure to Sexual ImagesWhen innocently making online searches, surfing the web, opening E-mail or E-mail links, being exposed to pictures of naked people or people having sex.

Harassment -Threats or other offensive behavior sent online to the youth or posted online about the youth for others to see.

The booklet, Online Victimization: A Report on the Nation’s Youth can be ordered through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (www.missingkids.com) (http://www.missingkids.com) see the publications section. Also, there is a PowerPoint presentation; Shadows of the Internet located on this website that summarizes the Online Victimization: A Report on the Nation’s Youth. Another resource regarding risk is the FBI, look under Reports & Publications, under cyber issues, A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety. WWW.Safekids.com (http://www.Safekids.com), Larry Magid’s article, Study Finds Online Risk for Teens also addresses the major points in the Online study.

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Should I have a contract with my child about Internet use?

Parents should have rules regarding when teens can go online, how long they can stay online and what activities their child can engage in while online. These rules should be clearly conveyed to teens and either a verbal or written agreement made with the teen to follow those rules. If the agreement is broken, parents should impose some sort of consequence, like restricting use of the Internet for a period of time.

Check the www.missingkids.com (http://www.missingkids.com) for Teen Safety on the Information Highway. To see a PowerPoint presentation titled Shadows of the Internet, click here.


So Your Kid is Looking at Porn.  What Next?

In a recent article about keeping kids safe, Larry Magid suggests, “Take a deep breath and spend some time thinking about the situation before you do anything. Your response should depend on what the child is doing, how often the child is doing it and of course, your own values.”

The article goes on to point out that it is important to send a clear message about your disapproval in a firm, but calm manner. “A parent’s reaction can have a tremendous impact, and you could make it traumatic by ranting, raving and threatening reprisals,” said Richard Toft, child psychologist.

Read the whole article at www.safekids.com/looking_porn.htm (http://www.safekids.com/looking_porn.htm).

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What about blocking, filtering and rating applications?

Some servers (AOL) have built in filters that protect your family from unwanted exposure. Realize that if you put filters on your computer you to may be unable to access certain sites that the filter feels are a risk.

Check with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Website (www.missingkids.com (http://www.missingkids.com) under publication) for their Teen’s Online brochure. There are also slides related to filters and blocking at the end of the PowerPoint presentation, Shadows of the Internet located on our website. Click here to see it.


What are the signs that your child migh be at risk Online?


  • Your child spends large amounts of time on-line, especially at night.
  • You find pornography on your child’s computer.
  • Your child receives phone calls from men you don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distance to number you don’t recognize.
  • Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don’t know.
  • Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.
  • Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
  • Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else.

These warning signs are from the FBI website (http://www.fbi.gov) under Reports and Publications, reference cyber issues, A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety.

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Teens seem to speak "Internetese."  What are some of the more common terms?

If you don’t know the language, you can’t communicate effectively with your teen. Here are some common Internet terms:

Blog – An online journal. You can post stories about yourself or thoughts just like you would in a personal journal. These have become more and more popular with teenagers. The Internet is a very public place and teens need to be reminded of the danger of posting personal thoughts and information for everyone to see.

Chatroom- An interactive forum where you can talk in real-time. The chatroom is the place or location online where the chat is taking place. Many chatrooms are established so that people can discuss a common interest like music or movies.

Emoticons- Animated faces that express different emotions you can send in E-mails, chat, and Instant Messaging. Emoticons are a way to show someone online how you are feeling.

Flaming- Sending a deliberately confrontational message to others on the Internet.

Mouse Trapping- A commonly used technique by pornography sites where a user gets “locked” in a web site. While surfing the Internet it is possible to click a web site and have multiple undesirable web sites open. When this happens, you often cannot close or back out of the sites and must close your web browser completely.

Pharming- An online scam that attacks the browser’s address bar. Users type in what they think is a valid web-site address and are unknowingly redirected to an illegitimate site that steals their personal information.

Spimming- Mass mailings sent as Instant Messages to users. Often these can feature links to explicit porn sites.

Whitelisting- A form of filtering that only allows connections to a pre-approved list of sites that are considered useful and appropriate for children.

This sample of definitions is from Netsmartz.org (http://www.netsmartz.org) Internet Definitions Visit the site to see other definitions.

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What can I do to minimize the changes of an On-line exploiter victimizing my child?


· Communicate and talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential on-line danger.

· Spend time with your teen on-line. Have them teach you about their favorite destinations.

· Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your teen’s bedroom.

· Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software.

· Always maintain access to your teen’s on-line account and randomly check his/her e-mail.

These suggestions are from the FBI, visit www.fbi.gov (http://www.fbi.gov) , Reports and Publications, cyber issues, A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety. More tips are available on their website.

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What is Myspace.com?

Myspace.com (http://www.myspace.com) is a site that has 65 million registered accounts. It is the largest website devoted to meeting peers on the Internet. It is very popular with teens and very likely your teen has an account on myspace.com (http://www.myspace.com). It is a great way to meet other young adults and you can search by age, schools, or town in which you live.

Teens can post pictures and personal information about themselves. Sometimes teens push the limit of what they post on their site. They forget that this is something that anyone can access and potentially exploit. Sometimes teens post inappropriate pictures of themselves, write about their latest sexual encounter, and/or being stoned at a party or getting drunk with friends. Ask your son or daughter to see their myspace.com (http://www.myspace.com) profile.


What have you seen locally at the Jeannette Prandi Children's Center?

The JPCC is a multidisciplinary interview center where police, the district attorney and social services bring children when there is an allegation of child abuse. Over this past year we have seen a rash of teenage girls after they have being lured into meetings by older men (twenties) on the Internet. These men develop a “relationship” with the girls convincing them that they really care. After some time communicating online, the men meet the girls, get them intoxicated and then sexually assault them. We have also seen teens send pictures of themselves to men who they think truly care about them. These pictures often become increasingly sexual, with the teenage girls wearing less and less clothing. This is another reason to have a conversation with your teen about their time on the Internet.

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