SAFETY FOR THE WIRED GENERATION
Advice from FBI Cyber Expert Arnold Bell on Protecting Our Children
Sobering Stats: Six
out of 10 kids online have gotten an e-mail or instant message from
a perfect stranger ... and more than half have written back. One
in 33 kids has been aggressively solicited to meet their "cyber
friend" in person. One in four kids, ages 10-17, has been
exposed to unwanted sexual material online.
These are the scary
realities facing our 48 million young Internet users. So what do
parents need to know when it comes to Internet safety? How can you keep
your kids out of harm's way in cyberspace?
We spoke to
someone with the answers: FBI Special Agent Arnold Bell. Agent
Bell manages our "Innocent Images" program; its mission is
to protect children from cyber predators through undercover operations
and other proactive initiatives.
His advice, in a nutshell:
It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but talk to your kids about these
issues. They need to understand the dangers, but they also need to trust
you enough to tell you what's going on without fear of losing their computer
some ground rules. I have two teenage daughters who are on the
Internet all the time. They even have their own web sites. What I tell
them is this: don't give out any personal information over the Internet.
Don't post pictures. Don't talk about family matters. Don't talk about
your school. Even the smallest bits of information can be exploited by
tabs. Don't just put your kid in front of a computer and walk
away. Sit with them. Put your family computer in an open area, never
in a child's private room. If you can, password protect access to the
web so that your kids have to come to you to go online. And know what
they're up to on the Internet. I tell my girls, 'This is my computer
and you have no expectation of privacy. I will be looking at your chat
logs.' And I do."
suspicious/inappropriate things you find online whenever you
or your children come across them. A great way to do that is through
the National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children's CyberTipline. FBI Special Agents and an
investigative analyst, as well as other federal personnel are stationed
at the center full-time. You can fill out a form right on the web site,
and your information will be passed on to the appropriate law enforcement
unthinkable happens and your child meets or is abducted by a
pedophile, contact your local police department immediately. They'll
reach out and get us involved. In the meantime, don't touch your computer
or turn it off. It may contain valuable evidence that could lead us to
Final words: "Be assured that the FBI is committed
to protecting your children from sexual predators on the Internet."
For further reading: A
Parent's Guide to Internet Safety | Innocent
Images National Initiative