11/15/07 — Parents warned about Internet access

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Parents warned about Internet access

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on November 15, 2007 2:07 PM

It only takes eight minutes online to find a child's full name, who his friends are and what his hobbies are -- all from his login name.

In twenty minutes, anyone can find what school the child goes to and even what classes he takes and when.

What's more, a person can also find an exact address and directions to the front door of your house in the same amount of time.

Children all around the world have profile accounts on Web sites like MySpace and Facebook, but what parents don't know is that those people who want to find their children can -- and easily.

Starr Barbaro from the North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission spoke to about 35 parents and grandparents during the Walnut Creek's Crime Watch meeting Tuesday night to let them know the dangers of what their children put on the Internet.

"We found all this information just from a login name," she said. "Imagine what we could find with more."

Posting pictures on the Internet is a big mistake, she said, because those people who would want to hurt the child, like stalkers and child molesters, will now know exactly what they look like.

She gave the parents some insight on what to do.

"Spy on your kids," she said.

She encouraged them to make their own MySpace accounts so that they could more easily see what their children had online. MySpace members can see an entire profile and get access to more information than non-members. But she reminded them to edit their profile and take out all personal information as soon as they register.

She also showed them how to search for and find their children once they are members.

Some parents may know about their child's MySpace page, but that's not the only one they have.

"That's the one they want you to see," Ms. Barbaro said.

She warned the parents not to be oblivious.

"I had a parent come up to me one time and tell me that her daughter only had one account," she said. "I told her to go home and see if her daughter had other accounts. She said, 'She only has one.'

"When she came back the next day, her daughter had found four other accounts. One of those had pictures of her daughter naked on them. She was 14."

Compromising pictures like that, she said, won't just get them sent to their room.

"It could affect them when they are applying for jobs or when they are applying for college," she added.

"People look at these profiles. If these kids keep putting compromising pictures online, they are going to end up working at Burger King for the rest of their lives."

From just a few comprimising pictures, they are already behind in life, she added.

She told parents that they should talk to their children about how this information could hurt them in the future.

Some kids are good with not putting a lot of information on the Internet, too, she said. But, as parents, it is always good to make sure you know what that information is, and what image your child is portraying.

"We want kids to have a positive image," she said.