Internet safety and online messages boards are big concerns for parents, State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady) said. Children may think they are being safe online, but predators are often able to find out personal information about the youth.
"Many recent media reports discuss teen-agers creating websites and posting on message boards," Senator Farley said. "The teens think they are being safe but a determined predator may pick up on subtle clues such as a teen wearing a T-shirt with the school's name. Once they know where the child lives, it is easy to initiate conversation with them or stalk them."
"Computers are incredible tools that open the door to an abundance of information. But children can also be exposed to a whole different world that they aren’t prepared for," Senator Farley said. "Some pedophiles use youth-oriented Internet bulletin boards to engage children in sexually-oriented conversations."
"State and federal laws provide strong penalties for sexual predators who would lure our children. But, parents are the first line of defense in this war," Senator Farley said.
The following are suggestions from Senator Farley for parents concerning online computer safety:
* Parents want to know who their children are hanging out with after school. The same rule should apply online: know who your children communicate with.
* Locate the computer in a high-traffic area. This way, parents can keep better tabs on the Websites their children visit.
* As parents, warn children about stranger-danger -- never talking to strangers and people that you don’t know. Warn children to not give out personal information, such as their address, phone number, or family financial information (including credit card numbers), to strangers over the Internet.
* Block certain sites such as pornography and adult bulletin boards. Filtering software programs are available.
Senator Farley has brochures concerning online safety and they are available through his office by calling (518) 455-2181 (Capitol), (518) 843-2188 (Amsterdam), (518) 762-3733 (Johnstown) or (800) 224-5201 (toll free).