Keeping Kids Safe Online
Methods vary when it comes to child safety online, but one thing that parents and officials agree on is communication is key. Communication means knowing what websites your child visits.
"She goes to Hotmail for her mail," says Scott Scristal. "She has MySpace, and then there are some game sites that she'll go to. I don't know what those exactly are."
"I use Hotmail, MySpace, and AIM," says Scott's 12 year-old daughter, Adriana.
The family set up rules to keep the kids safe.
"We talked about, before they were active, not to give out any personal information... No phone numbers, no addresses, nothing that is really going to stand out where somebody could trace them back," says Scristal.
The Mid-Missouri Internet Task Force conducted research two years ago that found at least one out of four junior high students reported having inappropriate conversations online.
"When I took this job back in 2000, as part of the High Tech Computer Crime Unit, I went home and tore the Internet out of my house and that is not the solution," says Chief Investigator Chris Pickering. "Ignoring won't make it go away."
Cyber bullies, indentity thieves and online predators are all part of the problem.
"Being able to go to the big city virtually, you bring the big city virtually to your town too," says Pickering.
And that's why many families have a plan if a child comes across anything unsafe.
"I would definitely tell my parents first... I wouldn't waste time," says Adriana. "If they weren't home I would definitely call them or contact them somehow."
If you would like to learn more about protecting your kids online, you can attend an Internet Safety Night next Tuesday at Gentry Middle School at 6:30 p.m. or you can take part in the conversation, among mid-Missouri officials and parents, virtually. Check out the side bar for a link for more information.