Protecting teens online worth effort

Protecting teens online worth effort

LARGO, Fla. — I grew up in the era of AOL chat rooms and instant messaging. It certainly had its hidden dangers, but now threats online are even greater with nearly two-thirds of adults on social media.

Hooshmand Nightingale has two sons, the oldest nearing 11 years of age. He restricts their internet access, and when it comes to social media, don’t even think about it.

“They have access to online, but we try to monitor that as best as we possibly can,” Nightingale said. 

“The eldest has a cell phone for safety reasons, but he does not have access to the internet on that phone. He can call specific contacts on it.”

Once his kids become teens, Nightingale says it’ll be tough balancing their independence and keeping them safe. But it can be done. 

Corporal Spencer Gross has teens of his own and follows this advice from the sheriff’s office:

“We tell parents to know who their children’s friends are, to know who they are communicating with, text messages, over the internet, specifically utilizing cell phones,” he said.

“We suggest that parents have access to their children’s cell phones and that children know that the parents have access to their cell phones.”

We spoke to Gross after a soldier was arrested in Clearwater for having an inappropriate relationship with a minor online. 

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputies say Peter Matlock, 23, and a 14-year-old exchanged nude photos and they simulated a sexual act over Skype.
Detectives say this had been going on since February and ended in November.
Matlock is stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, but was arrested while on leave at his parents’ home.

Gross admits it isn’t easy monitoring teens’ social media and internet presence.

In the case against Matlock, it was a friend of the victim that let a school resource officer know what was happening. So everyone plays a role in protecting kids online.  

(© 2016 WTSP)

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Published at Fri, 30 Dec 2016 00:22:35 +0000