This is an excerpt from one of the recent episodes of 'Do I Need a Lawyer?' hosted by: Gary Martin Hays.
In this segment, please allow me to step away from a legal question and talk about a non-profit I started back in 2008 called Keep Georgia Safe.
The mission for Keep Georgia Safe is to provide safety education and crime prevention training to Georgia's families.
Please check out our website - KeepGeorgiaSafe.org for all kinds of safety information that you can use to help protect your families and yourself.
We all know the internet is an amazing creation. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - we have information about any subject imaginable at our fingertips with just the click of a mouse.
We can use it for communicating - like emails or instant messaging or chat rooms.
Shopping. Research. Games. Sharing photos.
But along with all of these great benefits come great risks, worries and concerns.
(1) The content found on the internet
* Information about alcohol, drugs, how to build a pipe bomb - you name it, it is on there.
(2) The improper usage of the internet:
* students can download papers instead of creating their own
* Overuse of the internet - can be addictive
Recent studies show that we spend
28.9 hours on the internet vs. 13.6 hours watching tv per week.
(3) The security of the internet
* financial theft
* ID theft
We really don't think about these issues enough when we go to the internet.
And that is one of the goals of Keep Georgia Safe. To help all of us become more aware of the dangers that are out there so we can better protect ourselves and our families.
I'm going to share with you the 2 two most important lessons we need to teach our children about the internet?
First lesson and the #1 RULE:
We have to teach our children to
PROTECT THEIR IDENTITY.
Our children should NEVER disclose:
* Full name
* Phone number
* Where they go to school
* Where they hang out with friends
* Sports teams or location of extra-curricular activities
This is very important.
Yet our kids are out there putting up who knows what for the entire world to see on the internet.
Here are some scary statistics:
There are more than 21 million teens in the United States using the internet.
Over 61% of those teens have a personal profile page set up on networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Instagram or Twitter.
64% have posted a photo on their profile, and 58 % posted information about their neighborhood online for the world to see.
8% of teens have posted their cell phone number online.
69% of teens regularly receive personal messages online from people they don't know.
Think about that last stat for a moment.
These kids parents should go ahead and call the producers of "To Catch A Predator" because it won't be long before they start having strange men showing up at their house.
Child predators use the internet as an unguarded playground.
If your child is unsupervised on the internet, you are allowing these predators unlimited and unrestricted access.
According to a report issued in July of 2007, MySpace.com found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles on the popular social networking Web site.
If you are a fisherman, you go where the fish are.
If you are a predator, you go where the kids are - MySpace.
29,000 registered sex offenders are on MySpace.
Now this is the same MySpace that your kids are posting their photos of themselves in bikinis, or with their school sweatshirts, their cell phone numbers, or even their home addresses.
Keep in mind that the 29,000 number represents registered sex offenders that were discovered because they signed up using their real name.
* Think how many beat the system by registering their MySpace profile under an alias.
Now here is the second area of concern you should have about the internet:
* your child's actions at the keyboard.
Here are some tips you can use to monitor your child's activities:
(1) The DIRECT approach is to restrict internet access to times when you are available to physically monitor your child's activities.
(2) You could also have your internet service provider (ISP) put filters on your internet service.
(3) This is what I call the "Ronald Reagan" approach - you trust, but verify.
You can use monitoring software to track your child's surfing habits.
(4) Make sure your computer is in a common room where you can monitor your child's activities.
(5) Set ground rules about when, how long, what content is off limits, and the consequences when rules are broken.
To find out more about internet safety, as well as other tips you can use to help protect yourself and your family, please visit KeepGeorgiaSafe.org.