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Nancy A. McBride, National Safety Director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children - June 29, 2010

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Sarah: We're excited to have  Nancy A. McBride, National Safety Director for the National Center for  Missing & Exploited Children with us today.
Sarah: Nancy is the National  Safety Director for NCMEC and authors many of the child safety  publications, including Know the Rules…Abduction & Kidnapping  Prevention Tips for Parents and Guardians, When Your Child is Flying  Unaccompanied, For Child Safety in Amusement or Theme Parks, and For  Going To and From School More Safely. She is a frequent lecturer on the  issues of child safety and exploitation and is often a guest on  television and radio programs dealing with child exploitation.
Sarah: Sprint has been a  supporter of Internet and Wireless Safety with the 4Net Safety  (4netsafety.com) program that opens the lines of communication about  internet safety between young people and the adults who care for them.

GamersMom: How many teenagers  are online?
Nancy: 93% of all teens 12-17 are online.

Bette: I keep reading and  hearing about cyberbullying.  Can you tell me more about it?
Nancy: Cyberbullying is the use  of Internet technology such as cell phones, laptops, and gaming devices  to bully and harass. It may involve actions such as hacking victims’  accounts; stealing victim’s identities and impersonating them; and,  creating hate pages.

Bette: Since this bullying has been in the news a lot  recently is it widespread? Do you know how many kids have been affected?
Nancy: 1 in 5 teens have  cyberbullied someone; 1 in 10 have been cyberbullied.

GrouchyDad: My kids (10 and 12)  keep pestering me for cell phones.  I say they are too young but all of  their friends have them and they're pretty responsible. Is there a  recommended age for kids to get phones?
Nancy: There's no set age; it  depends on your child's maturity and the rules you set up for cell phone  usage.  It's a great tool if used properly.

NormaC: Can you tell me what sex  texting is?
Nancy: Sexting is the sending of sexual messages or images  through cell phone texts. It can have serious consequences for teens.  They may lose jobs, school positions, and future opportunities. It can  permanently damage their reputations and make them the target of  bullying and cruelty. Also, sexting is illegal when it involves the  image of someone underage, even when youth take and disseminate images  of themselves

GrouchyDad: What about social networking sites like Facebook and  Twitter? What age do you recommend?
Nancy: You need to check with  the site and see what the age requirements are and then talk to your  kids about what is and isn't appropriate to post. Social networking  sites can be a great form of self expression but don't reveal too much!

kb: What practical steps can  schools can take to educate parents about Internet safety and what is an  example of how addressing student internet use off-campus can impact  safety on campus?
Nancy: Great question.  Netsmartz.org and nsteens.org have  great resources for helping teach teens, parents and other caring  adults about Internet safety, including how your behavior when you're  online off campus can impact what happens at school.

NormaC: I have 2 teenage boys.  How in the world do I talk to them about sextexting?
Nancy: Be open with them and  discuss the consequences of that behavior.  What a teen does today like  send an inappropriate photo can have a huge impact on them later. Be  honest and really have a discussion not a lecture.

GamersMom: Do the game companies  do anything to protect our kids from creep? My son is addicted to World  of Warcraft.
Nancy: Check out the rating of the game and make sure the  sites have moderators and a method of reporting abusive comments.  Talk  to your kids about not sharing too much information and being careful  what they say or do with someone they meet online and remind them not to  respond to any bullying remarks; ignore and report it.

Jenn: what is the best web  filtering system?
Nancy: We don't recommend any specific filtering system;  check out getnetwise.com.

Meredith: What is/where are the biggest threats to kids?
Nancy: We know there are people  online who mean kids harm, but sometimes kids can put themselves at  risk by revealing too much, talking inappropriately or provocatively  with someone they don't know or agreeing to meet in person.  Teach your  kids to be careful of how they respond to people online and to always  tell an adult if they feel threatened or frightened by anyone online.

Nancy: Going back to the  filtering question, just to be clear, getnetwise lists all of the  different filtering systems and check out your parental controls.

embarrassed: I caught my daughter  sending inappropriate messages and photos to her boyfriend through her  phone. Is there anyway to delete them or will they float out in  cyberspace forever?
Nancy: Unfortunately, photos and messages cannot be  deleted once they're posted online; there may be a record of them.  If  they haven't been sent to anyone else, and if they are delted from both  phones, they will be gone.

kb_1: Some kids think adults worry too much a bout safety,  is there a good Website to refer kids to where other kids provide tips  or advice about staying free of online dangers; some age-appropriate  stories kids can take a look at?
Nancy: Absolutely; nsteens.org provides real life stories  and interactive activities to keep kids engaged and help educate them  about Internet safety in a fun and informative way.  Teens can relate to  the characters, and the real life stories send a valuable message about  responsibility and consequences from kids who have gone through it.

Nancy: The site also features  videos called Teens Talk Back that gives teens a forum to express  themselves.  If your kids are younger, they'll love netsmartzkids.org  with Clicky, Nettie, andf Webster who take children on wonderful  adventures and teach them important safety rules along the way.

TanyaT2: have you seen an  increase in internet crimes against kids in the last few years?
Nancy: The crimes in terms of  predators have not risen.  We have Internet Crimes Against Children Task  Forces all over the country who investigate these crimes and have made  significant arrests and prosecutions.
Nancy: social networking sites  are making efforts all the time, but nothing beats your involvement in  what your kids are doing online. Using the parental control devices is a  good way to start; make sure you have your kid's passwords, check out  their sites, and create your own.  Sometimes the best way to communicate  with your kids is by doing what they like to do. Remind them that if  they don't want you, their teachers, or anyone else to see what's there,  don't put it up.  Be sure to use privacy settings and choose your  friends wisely!

Marky: Are there any efforts underway to work with social  network providers to put some type of notification or approval from  parents whenever a friend is added or requested. I think it is too easy  for kids to just friend someone without the parents even knowing
Nancy: Sorrry folks, user  errro; here's the question for this answer.

googleeyes: If i think my  son/daughter is on the receiving end of texts etc of someone i thinkg is  a sexual predator, what should i do?
Nancy: First, don't delete  anything.  Report to your electronic service provider and law  enfocement.  You can turn off the monitor, but they may need what's on  the screen and in the computer.  Reassure your child that you are doing  something about it.

Meredith: If I find out my child is experiencing bullying  online, what do you recommend is the best approach?
Nancy: Talk to your child about  the bullying and report it to authorities. Many schools have policies  now that deal with cyberbullying.  Teach your child not to respond,  don't delete it and save all the messages.

Miles2Go: How has sites like  facebook and myspace increased the danger for kids?
Nancy: First, I'd like to say  that social networking offers kids a great form of self-expression and  creativity.  Just like anything else, what your child posts online and  how they act, has a lot to do with any risk they may encounter.  Talk to  them about being discreet in what they reveal and make sure that  anything they post could be seen and approved by anyone.

googleeyes: Is software like  netnanny enough for internet surfing? What else should I do?
Nancy: Nothing beats your  attention and supervision.  Tools are great, but they should be part of  your whole safety plan.  Check out netsmartz.org for more tips and  conversation starters to get the ball rolling.

Juju: how much access should I  give my teenage daughter to facebook?
Nancy: You need to make sure  your daughter understands some of the risks and consequences and that  you have total access to what she's doing.  You can become her friend,  just don't embarrass her with too much attention.

Quorra: Have cell phones helped  find missing children...have you seen a rise in this?
Nancy: We definitely know that  technology plays a tremendous role in our ability to help locate missing  children. GPS on phones can be helpful, and wireless Amber Alerts are  critical in getting the word out quickly about a missing child. We know  the public helps us find missing kids. It only takes ones person calling  in the right tip.

Quorra: Have you seen a correlation between gaming and  online cyberstalking?
Nancy: There are some risks that kids may face when  gaming, because they don't know who is on the other end.  They need to  be mindful of their behavir and report anything that is frightening or  threatening to a trusted adult.

Juju: can I block access to the web on my kid's phones so  they cannot get to facebook?
Nancy: The best way to answer this question is to go  directly to your cell phone provider and find out what features they  offer to help you.

mom4boys: my kids like to play online games.  How much  personal info is too much? Is sharing their city and state safe or  should we tell them not even to do that?
Nancy: Kids need to be careful  about what they share concerning personal information, because a savvy  person can take the information and find out more about your child by  asking some specific questions.  It's always better not to reveal too  much to people online.  They can still have fun playing the game.

Quorra: What is your opinion  about video networking ...such as YouTube and the preteen/teenage ages?
Nancy: YouTube video blogging  and posting of videos is a common practice, but on YouTube, there may be  inappropriate content, which can be flagged by any user.

mom4boys: I feel like I need to  learn a whole new language when I read text messages. Is there a guide  somewhere?
Nancy: Kids like to use acronyms when they're online.   Check out netlingo.com for the latest list.

eeowyn01: How often do companies  use social networking as a part of the weeding out process for  potential college graduates? How concerned should my kids be about that  as they look for jobs?
Nancy: It is becoming a more popular practice for college  recruiters, potential employers, the Armed Services and others to check  out social networking sites to get a good picture of a potential  candidate.  Your kids may not be thinking of their futures, but you are.   Have the talk about responsibility and possible consequences.  Something they do today could have lasting effects on their future.
Nancy: Tomorrow we are  launching some exciting updates on NSTeens.org. This website is  specifically for tweens and teens and offers animations and real-life  stories that help them make safer choices online. The latest video is  “Mike-Tosis” which demonstrates just how fast and far information  travels online. There’s also a new educational game Cyberbully Zombies  Attack where students defend their school against cyberbully zombies  using NetSmartz tips like ignore the messages, block the cyberbully, and  tell a trusted adult.

Sarah: Thanks so much for your time Nancy! This has been a  great chat!  Any last comments you want to leave us with?
Nancy: My pleasure, Sarah, and  one final thought.  Remember, just because your kids are older doesn't  mean they don't need your experience, attention and good judgment.  Keep  the lines of communication open; it makes a big difference in your  child's life and how they respond to different situations they  encounter.