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.