If you are a parent, as am I, I think we can agree there is

little else more important than keeping our children safe

and protected. It’s difficult enough keeping them safe from

the unscrupulous people we read about in the news, but

dealing with children and the Internet takes it to a

completely new level.

Many young people find instant messaging and e-mail a

convenient and fun way to talk with their friends. If you

have children, like me, when they’re not on the phone,

they’re talking with their friends on the Internet. We have

very strict rules and guidelines about who they can talk

with and for how long. We have given them detailed

instructions on what to do when they receive e-mail from

someone they don’t know or receive an anonymous instant

message.

Recently, someone close to me received a death threat via an

anonymous instant message. The language this person used was

so vulgar and explicit you would have thought it came from a

prison inmate. Interestingly enough, the person at the other

end was a child.

After significant investigation we determined this person

was a school mate. They had received detailed information about

the child including the child’s instant messenger alias,

their home address and color, and what type of cars the

family drove. Can you imagine how scared this child and

child’s family was? Quite frankly, it was not only sad but

sickening that another child could be so verbally brutal.

Additional investigation revealed that the school these

children go to were aware that this had been going on for

quite some time. Other children had been receiving

similar threats.

This particular event was all the result of several children

speaking in a chat roam and one child in particular got

upset about something that was said. That child contacted

another child, who is known to be mean, and asked them to

scare one of the other children. We got to the bottom of the

whole mess and everyone felt a bit of relief.

It’s very important to pay attention and, in some cases,

monitor what children are doing on the Internet. It’s for

their protection and the protection of others. I’m sure I am

going to get an ear full from privacy rights advocates on

this one. Regardless, the safety of our children is one of

the most important tasks a parent has.

If your children use e-mail and Instant Messaging on a

regular basis you should;

1) Limit the number of people they can e-mail and message with;

2) Work with them to develop an approved list of friends;

3) Limit the amount of the time they spend e-mailing and

messaging;

4) Make your presence known while they are e-mailing or

messaging; and

5) If necessary install some sort of monitoring software to see

what is going on in chat rooms.

Update: Shortly after writing this article, a 13 year old

boy at a middle school in my area was arrested for e-mailing

death threats to two teachers. In one e-mail he indicated he

was planning on bringing a gun to school to kill a teacher.

The other e-mail, sent to a teacher at a different school,

indicated that he planned on targeting students as well. For

further details please see the full article at South

Florida’s Sun Sentinel “http://www.sun-sentinel.com/

news/local/palmbeach/sfl-pcletter18feb18,1,216444.

story?ctrack=1&cset=true.”

For information on computer monitoring software take a look

at WatchRight http://www.watchright.com/.

A good site to visit to learn more about protecting children

on the Internet is http://www.protectkids.com. It’s full of great

information every parent should know. Other sites you may

want to visit are http://www.isafe.org/, and

Obscenity Crimes Reporting http://www.obscenitycrimes.org/.

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If you are a parent, as am I, I think we can agree there is little else more important than keeping our children safe and protected. It's difficult enough keeping them safe from the unscrupulous people we read about in the news, but dealing with children and the Internet...