The Secret Lives Of Your Kids Online
New technology serves impetuous youth, much to the chagrin of parents
By Helen A.S. Popkin
updated 6:18 a.m. PT, Wed., Sept. 17, 2008
Thanks to shows such as “Dateline: To Catch a Predator,” both adults and kids are well aware of online predators lurking in cyberspace. When it comes to kids and technology, parents are more likely to be blinded by the hype than to absorb the reality.
As more kids head back to school with increasingly sophisticated technology in their backpacks, the mischief they get up to may not have much in common with the hyperbolic tales of evening news shows that reveal humanity at low tide. Or so says Parry Aftab, executive director of Wired Safety.org, which focuses on Internet safety for children, tweens and teens.
“Parents think there are far more sexual predators out there on the Internet than there are in reality,” Aftab said in a recent interview. “The cases in which a child willingly goes out to meet a 50-year-old adult who has conned (him or her) into thinking he’s 15 is far less prevalent than other risks.”
What other risks, you ask? Here in the age of Web 2.0, the possibilities extend as far as a kid’s imagination. Face it, the Internet can be accessed via a cell phone far from a parent’s supervision and video gaming is an online interactive sport where kids can play with total strangers from all over the world. Unfortunately, the one thing most every kid has a tough time imagining is the kind of trouble he or she might be dredging up.
What the kids used to get up to
Just ask 17-year-old Shannon Sullivan – the first official kid to get in trouble on My Space. These days, the New Jersey high school senior is a member of Wiredsafety.org’s youth program, Teen Angels. As a volunteer, Sullivan visits schools to clue kids in on how to avoid cyber pitfalls. Once upon a time, however, she was an 8th grader who allowed her friends to push her into posting a profile on My Space.
“This was back when My Space had only 5,000 users and no privacy controls,” Sullivan recalls. The fact that Sullivan and her friends were all too young by My Space rules to post profiles wasn’t a problem. “We all just wrote that we were 21,” she says.
The problem (for Shannon, anyway) was the fact that her mom is a computer teacher, and her uncle, Bob Sullivan, is the technology journalist who writes msnbc.com’s Red Tape Chronicles.
Once mom discovered her 13-year-old daughter’s My Space profile, which included her address and other identifying information, it was all over for Sullivan and her friends. Mom called Uncle Bob, who got in contact with Wiredsafety.org’s Aftab. Aftab, in turn, got in touch with My Space, and the rest is history. My Space, along with other social networking sites, prominently posts Aftab’s suggestions for social networking safety.
What they’re getting up to now
Of course, suggestions are just that, and kids still get into a variety of conundrums on social networking sites. As Shannon Sullivan points out, you can be rocket-science smart when it comes to social networking safety — but you still can’t trust even your best friends.
“People put their cell phone numbers online and the phone numbers of their friends,” Sullivan says of her peers. “And there isn’t even any reason to do that. If you’re just talking to your friends online, they already have their phone number.”
She adds that parents really should check their kid’s profiles as well as the profiles of their friends. “Kids post their schools, where they’re going after school and they may not even use the privacy controls on the sites so that only their friends can see this information — that’s when posting personal information can get dangerous.”
How personal is personal? Pretty darned intimate when posting photos comes into play.
“You’ve got girls posing in bras because it seems like a safe way to be sexual,” says Aftab.
Sending private and potentially embarrassing cell phone pictures on impulse can also cause problems. “What (kids) don’t realize is that this is not the kind of attention they want to be drawing to themselves. And when something goes online, it’s on the Internet forever. It comes back when you’re applying for colleges or looking for a job.”
This easy-access technology has an even darker side — cyberbullying. It’s a problem that WiredSafety.org asserts is growing even as it’s getting more attention.
“For a lot of tweens and teenagers, it just turns into a catfight online,” says Sullivan who discusses this problem regularly when she’s visiting schools.
Since the bullying doesn’t happen face to face, the anonymity can allow the issue to quickly escalate. Sullivan contends that even kids who wouldn’t bully face to face can be quickly seduced by the power rush of bullying — even bullying their friends.
Since the bullying is taking place through communication technology, the victims aren’t even safe at home, where they might obsessively review the cruel texts or Internet posts wherever they have access. Just recently, two news stories illustrated how extreme cyberbullying can become
You might remember the Florida teenagers who beat up their former friend so they could post the video on You Tube. And currently, Aftab works closely with Tina Meier, mother of Megan Meier, the 13-year-old in Missouri who committed suicide last year when the boy she thought she was communicating with on My Space suddenly turned against her.
In this precedent-setting incident, it turned out that the boy, “Josh,” was actually the invention of Megan’s school acquaintance, and the school acquaintance’s mother. This school year, Megan’s mother, Aftab and Aftab’s Internet safety initiatives will launch a widespread cyberbullying education campaign in schools.
The “Three Cs” every parent should learn
Of course, there’s no way to protect kids 100 percent from the mistakes they’re bound to make — both with technology and with life. However, Aftab points out that open communication can go a long way.
She points out that technology is a tool that can be used to great benefit or detriment. When it comes to supplying kids with these tools, she urges parents to follow the Three Cs: Content, contact and cost.
“Even parents that don’t know that much about technology can ask the salesperson these questions,” Aftab says. “Can this piece of technology allow access to questionable content, and if so, can it be filtered? Can it be protected from malware that might cause the device to blow up? Can it download movies or music illegally that can lead to getting sued? Can it allow contact with others, and if so, can that communication be monitored? And then, cost. Ask if the device will have other costs, such as ring tones or music.”
Will those Three Cs barricade your little angel from the pitfalls of a wired world? Eh, not so much. But combine it with “communication,” and you’ve at least added padding when they fall.
Keeping the computer in the living room is no longer enough
Once upon a time, keeping the computer in a central area of the home was the vanguard for Internet safety. Coupled with parental filtering software, it was once a fairly reasonable way to keep online dangers a safe distance from vulnerable kids. These days, however, the computer isn’t the only way to access the Internet. “Kids can walk around now with more Internet technology right in their backpack,” Parry Aftab recently told msnbc.com. As executive director for WiredSafety.org, which focuses on Internet safety for children, tweens and teens, she should know. “Xbox, personal gaming systems, cell phones. They are connected to the Internet everywhere they go, with everything they touch.”
Cell phones provide easy access
For many parents, the cell phone has become a must-have safety tool for even grade school kids. As with any tool, however, misuse is also a reality:
• Unsolicited text messages open the door for harassment by strangers or even acquaintances.
• Camera phones in the hands of impetuous kids open the door for embarrassing photos that can be e-mailed and posted on the Web — where it will live forever.
• Cell phones with Internet access mean that kids can access inappropriate Web sites and engage in communication that can’t be monitored by parents.
Visit WiredSafety.org for tips on how to discuss these topics with your kids.
Your kid's friends may not respect her online privacy
Your kid may be a total Internet safety genius — she knows better than to trust strangers she meets online, doesn’t post her cell phone number or her address, never uploads embarrassing photos that may come back to haunt her, and keeps her Facebook profile private so only her friends can see it.
But what about those friends? Even pals with the best intentions bust the rules. WiredSafety.org suggests that you and your kid regularly review the Internet activities of her friends and search (or “Google”) her name asking friends to remove anything that crosses the line, including:
• Facebook, My Space, or any other social networking profile or blog open to anyone on the Internet that includes revealing information about your kid, such as his or her last name, address, school, schedules or phone numbers.
• revealing photos — and not just those innocent bikini pictures from summer camp or other such images she’d rather the world didn’t see. Check for photos in front of house numbers or license plates, or which provide any other information that could help strangers track down your child.
• blogs or other Internet diary entries that share embarrassing anecdotes easily tracked back to your kid. Remember, the Internet is forever; those seemingly harmless stories can come back to haunt.
Cyberbullying can cause more damage than physical abuse
Cyberbullying occurs when minor is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another minor using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, or mobile phones. Though your kid won’t come home bloody or bruised, cyberbullying can be just as damaging, with long-term effects that will stay with him for years.
Easy-access technology, combined with the general “Lord of the Flies” nature of childhood, open the playing field for children to become perpetrators or victims. This sort of victimization can be especially hurtful, as technology is everywhere. Even home isn’t a safe haven from unrelenting humiliation if your child has access to the Internet. Cyberbullying tactics include:
• abusive or threatening e-mails or text messages
• spamming text messages, which eat up cell phone minutes
• embarrassing photos or videos e-mailed en masse or posted on the Internet
• cruel Web sites or fake social networking profiles meant to humiliate the victim.
To learn more about how to recognize and deal with cyberbullying, visit WiredSafety.org and NetBullies.org.
Superior tech savvy doesn’t equal emotional smarts
Kids may pick up new technology faster than adults, but because they are immature, they don’t always think of the ramifications of their actions. Tech affords an immediacy that doesn’t allow kids a cooling off period. They’ll send a revealing or cruel text instantly. They’ll post images online they don’t realize will damage their future. With raging hormones blurring head smarts, even the savviest kid can fall for that dream boy or girl they met on MySpace — who may or may not be real.
Even if your kid is the one teaching you about new technology, you’re still the parent. As WiredSafety.org emphasizes, you should work hard to keep an open line of communication with your kids and let them know what is or is not acceptable. That won’t stop your kid from making mistakes, but it can lessen the severity.
For more information on keeping your kid safe, visit WiredSafety.org.
This is an story posted for the benefits of using "nanny cams" but is also a great story to show what not to do in the case of discovery.
"Installing hidden security cameras in your home can be a bulwark against any number of hazardous domestic situations, especially if you leave your home unattended or your children with relative strangers. Thankfully, for this Laurel Hill, N.Y. mother, she had nanny cameras installed and was able to catch her babysitter in a negligent act before she got a chance to really hurt the child she was supposed to be watching over.
The nanny, Anneliese Brucato, 48, was taking care of a 4-month-old girl while the girl’s mother, Cynthia Schafer, 33, was away at work. Schafer knew that even though the nanny checked out and had a crystal clear record on paper, she still might not to do what is best for the child.
“I checked all her references. There were no problems. She had no criminal history or anything,” Schafer said.
To make sure that the child was properly treated, the mother installed hidden IP cameras to keep an eye on the nanny while she was away. For those of us who are not nanny camera experts or enthusiasts, IP cameras are Internet-connected cameras that transfer live footage over the web to provide real-time video feeds to any computer with an Internet connection. The feeds from these cameras are even able to be viewed on smartphones with web browsing capabilities. To ensure that she could legally record Brucato, Schafer told the nanny that there were hidden cameras installed in the house, but did not say where they were or how they worked.
Everything seemed to be going well until the mother started noticing that her 4-month-old daughter was restless at night when she returned from work. Getting anxious about her daughter’s health, Schafer took the infant to the doctor, who said that the child was restless as a result of oversleeping during the day. This prompted the worried mother to check up on the surveillance feeds more intently to see why her daughter was sleeping so much, and what the nanny was doing.
What Schafer found shocked her beyond belief: the nanny was giving her daughter drugs that would make the her sleepy during the day in the hopes of making the babysitting job easier. The discovery happened when the mother remotely logged into the video feed from one of her four hidden cameras and saw Brucato pull a bottle out of her pocket and give the 4-month-old five doses of a clear liquid.
Horrified at what she had just witnessed, the mother quickly called the nanny and demanded to know what she had done. Brucato insisted that she was simply wiping the infant’s mouth. Schafer then rushed home and demanded to see what the nanny fed the child, threatening to call the police.
This was when Brucato took out a generic version of Benadryl, a Rite-Aid-brand children’s antihistamine used to fight allergies, the common cold, and are known to cause drowsiness. This medication also clearly states that it is not to be given to anyone under 4 years old, and in severe cases can cause seizures or death in young children.
Outraged that the nanny was needlessly putting her baby girl in danger, the concerned mother fired Brucato on the spot and called the police. When the officers located Brucato, they questioned her about her motives, which was simply:
“I gave it to her to calm her down.”
Brucato, who has worked for more than a decade taking care of children, was charged with assault in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child, to which she pled not guilty. Even though the nanny’s motives weren’t necessarily malicious, she was still placing the child in danger, and the mother was fortunate to find this out before her daughter got seriously hurt.
The sad truth, however, is that most parents aren’t as technologically savvy as Schafer, and wouldn’t even know where to start if they were planning to install hidden nanny cameras in their homes. Luckily for those parents, they’re reading this post from a safety and security company capable of pointing them in the right direction when looking for hidden IP cameras".
While the majority of this story proves beneficial both to the parent and the child it could have also turned out harmful or even deadly for both parent and/or child. Had the drug been illegal or "more" harmful than it was the nanny could have felt threatened and ran with the child to conceal the evidence. Returning the child after it was to late to test or worse not returning the child at all. It could have also been a danger for the parent confronting the nanny on such a serious act of endangerment against her child. We do not always know how someone will respond to a perceived threat, the nanny's career and possible freedom was at stake here.
Also, it is a must that authorities be notified of such activity, the next child might not be so lucky. This is not a person qualified to work in the position of "nanny" a trusted motherly figure to care for children. Had it of been me, the police would have been arriving at my home about the same time as me and charges would have been filed to not only protect my child but to make a paper trail. The truth is that until someone is caught or suspected no background or sex offender search will show the real activities of a person with endangerment tendencies toward children. This nanny may hve been fired from this job but did she seek another within the same agency? Did she simply change agencies, continue in her career as a trusted "nanny" to care for another child and continue to use "drugs" as part of her daily routine in the care of children?
An interview with a child rapist [part 2]
This is an edited version of a BBC documentary on British pedophiles. This excerpt focuses on a pedophile called Mark.
pedophile with a talented tounge
msnbc's dateline sets up another pedophile, this time a prominent doctor, watch him squirm as he gets booked and has to explain what has happened to his wife!!!
NBC's Dateline sets up pedophiles who knowingly chatted to underage girls on the internet before arranging to meet and surprises them, this video makes me angry disgusted and amused all at the same time
Internet safety for kids is a topic getting much attention because children are being exposed to the Internet at a younger and younger age. IUP Communications Media professor Erick Lauber and his student production team at IUP's Digital Media Institute recently produced this video on Internet safety for kids for the Indiana Area School District. It is currently used as part of the in-school training for students in kindergarten through third grade.
Learn to protect yourself online. Don't be dumb about it, a lot of creepy people out there.
Tom enjoys soccer and online games and he thought he knew Jack.....
Think You Know? Internet Safety Video
This video is about Internet safety and how not everybody you meet on the Internet are hwo they say they are.
This video is about a young girl who is chatting to a man she does not know. the man asks her to meet him and she does. she really likes the man and thinks he makes her feel special! but is that really the truth?
you should never chat or meet up with people online if you do not know them or you should always tell an adult or someone you trust if somthing is wrong!
remember..YOU are in control and you dont have to do anything you dont want to do!
There are dozens of child chat rooms popping up on the internet geared towards children ages 6 to 14. While these may be fun for children to play games and connect with friends, some parents are concerned the open chat environment offered by these services is putting them at risk: either making them vulnerable to predators or exposing them to inappropriate language. Learn how to Missouri mothers discovered that these child-friendly open chat areas are not as innocent as they seem, and how one San Francisco organization is helping parents deal with this issue.
This video is a newscast featuring a new children's book entitled Little Red Hoodie written by Adrianna Kruse. In this modernized version of the classic tale, the Big Bad Wolf plays the role of an internet predator, posing as Granny online in an attempt to lure Little Red into his trap. The goal of the book is to use a child-friendly and humorous format to approach an important and difficult subject that faces today's families.