For Immediate Release: July 10, 2012
Contact: Rebekah Sweeney: (608) 266-3790
Jorgensen’s Journal: Keep Kids Safe Online
When it comes to new technology, sometimes, our children know more than we do. These days, preschoolers are playing on iPads and teens are texting wizards.
But, while our kids might be up on the latest trends in electronics, it’s important we remember they’re still kids - - and, the Internet can be a dangerous place. In fact, the FBI estimates there are a half a million pedophiles online each day, many looking to connect with our children.
With this threat in mind, I’ve made Internet safety a legislative priority, and last session wrote a bill that is now law which requires convicted, registered sex offenders in the State of Wisconsin provide the Department of Corrections with the name or number of every electronic mail account, Internet profile site or website they maintain for personal use.
Legislation, of course, isn’t a silver bullet. We as parents also must take action to help maintain our children’s privacy and security online – and step one is talking about these issues with our kids.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has compiled a list of Internet safety tips, which you may find helpful. Here are a few of the most critical points:
1. When you’re online, don’t give out personal information. This includes your name, address, telephone number, passwords, or the name of the school you attend. Never send or upload a picture of yourself without parental permission.
2. Tell a responsible adult immediately if someone threatens you online, or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way.
3. Avoid talking with strangers via the Internet, and do not agree to meet anyone you meet online without getting your parents’ permission first. If your parents agree to a meeting with your online friend, make sure they go with you and that you meet in a very public place. Remember that people online may not be who they say they are.
Parents can also use software to help limit kids’ access to explicit materials and protect them from predators. Check your Internet Service Provider’s homepage for online products that block certain websites, or search online for a program that can track online activity.
Monitoring your children’s Internet activities is easier when you can actually see what they’re doing. Consider moving your computer to a shared family room, and limiting their access to the hours when you’re home.
Finally, ask your children what they’ve been up to on the Internet.
If they share that someone was asking them personal questions or made them uncomfortable, take it seriously.
Don’t hesitate to call local police if you think your child is being threatened or has received obscene messages.
The Internet can be a wonderful resource for our children. It puts a wealth of knowledge and a world of discovery at their fingertips. With simple steps, you can help today’s tech-savvy kids focus on the web’s positives, and avoid online dangers.