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Virtual Worlds Pose Hazards for Children

by Lane Roberts

Tech-savvy kids now spend hours in “virtual worlds” communicating with friends and even total strangers. Recent arrests of computer sexual predators in Douglas County should serve as a reminder to parents of the potential dangers of the Internet.

Many kids enjoy cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging, social networking sites, and computer gaming sites. The media generation, also known as “Generation M,” averages 44.5 hours weekly with one type of media or another.

This media multi-tasking can often lead to security risks. While the Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids, unsupervised access to the world-wide web can pose hazards.

Many experts agree that parents should get involved and understand high-tech tools that kids are using, including the Internet. Parents are encouraged to get involved and share Internet experiences with kids. Parental monitoring software such as: eBlaster, Spector, NetNanny or Guardian by Guardian Software, is designed to assist parents in monitoring computer usage.

Parents should randomly check instant messages and e-mails for unwanted solicitations and the sharing of personal information which could lead to face-to-face contact.

The best protection is parental involvement. If a child is spending long hours online, especially at night, or if phone calls from strangers or unsolicited gifts begin to arrive, parents need to be involved immediately. Contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, or the FBI, if a child has been solicited or has received pornography or inappropriate contact online.

Ten basic safety tips for improving web safety can be found at:

(Resource: The Technology Guide, LLC, a local technology and security consulting company.)



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