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Internet Safety Month focuses on keeping kids safe online
by Tribune Staff
Jun 15, 2011 | 685 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — Many of today’s children and teens are totally immersed with texting, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other social networking sites. While social networking might appear harmless to many of these young people, it can open the door to child predators and other dangers.

As part of efforts to keep kids safe on the internet, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office supports National Internet Safety Month during June. Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley encourages parents to educate themselves about the potential dangers of social networking and to make sure that they are aware of what their children are doing online.

“While the Internet can be fun and useful, it can also be used to stalk, cyber-bully and commit identity theft,” said Washoe County Sheriff PIO Deputy Armando Avina. “Many young people do not realize the potential consequences and danger of displaying personal information online, giving strangers access to their school, home or work information.”

A Pew Research Center and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children survey of 10 to 17-year-olds showed that 34 percent of them had posted their real names, telephone numbers, home addresses or the names of their schools online for anyone to see. Forty-five percent had posted their dates of birth or ages, and 18 percent posted pictures of themselves.

“Allowing kids to go online without supervision or ground rules is like allowing them to explore a major metropolitan area by themselves,” Avina said. “The Internet, like a city, offers entertainment and educational resources, but also presents the risk of coming across websites containing adult or violent images, false information or, worse, coming into contact with sexual predators. Kids need help navigating this world. Parents need to be aware of what their child is doing and talk openly with them about internet safety.”

Internet safety tips for children:

• Keep social networking site profiles set to “private.”

• Do not give out personal details such as address or school information.

• Turn off your webcam after using it so it cannot be hacked.

• Do not send anyone inappropriate photos of yourself or anyone else.

Safety tips for parents:

• Discuss the dangers of the internet with your child and set ground rules to follow.

• Review safety/parental controls on your computer, search engine, email and instant messaging.

• Monitor your child’s online activity and the sites they visit.
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