Smith: Monitor Your Children’s Internet Usage
State Senator Malcolm A. Smith has expressed concern over the use and abuse of the Internet as a tool for sexual predators.
"It is an unfortunate situation when a very useful and informative resource — such as the web — is used in a manner that is harmful to others," said Senator Smith.
"For a select group of people, the Internet has evolved into an anonymous stalking tool — used to endanger and frighten our children."
Senator Smith advises parents to keep computers in a family room that is in a centralized location of the house. "Parents need to be aware of how their children spend their time on the Internet.
By keeping the computer in a family room rather than a child’s bedroom, parents can be more aware of what their children are doing on-line," Smith said.
According to the Queens lawmaker, a recent study reports that as many as one in five children has been sexually solicited online. Senator Smith suggests that parents look into software for their computers that can monitor their kid’s Internet usage. The programs can either create logs of the children’s activity or simply block web sites and chats that contain key phrases or sexual explicit content. "While these types of programs are a useful tool in protecting our children, it is important to remember they are not perfect," warned Smith.
"The main issue here is awareness. There is an alarming statistic that shows 71 percent of parents stop monitoring their kids Internet usage after they turn 14, without knowing that 72 percent of all Internet-related missing children are 15 years of age or older.
"I urge all parents to take a good hard look at their children’s online activity - what they look at, who they talk to, and what they say.
To put an end to Internet based crimes like these, it can only be done with the help of parents," the Senator said.
If you suspect that your child has been sexually solicited online, you may report the incident via the Cyber Tipline at www.missingkids.com/cybertip or the Child Pornography Tipline at 1-800-843-5678.
These resources are operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.