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Ask Parry!

Ask Parry!

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Ask Parry! Ask Parry! is a service where Parry Aftab, noted online safety and privacy expert, and Executive Director of WiredSafety.org can answer your questions about online safety, privacy and security, and help you with problems you encounter online. Anything from help finding a safe chat room for your teens, to knowing what to do if the item you bought at auction doesn't arrive as promised.

Is your child a potential victim?

Probably. Few are exempt. Most Internet-related victims fall into a few general categories. They live in suburbia or rural towns. They typically are between the ages of 11 and 15 years old. They are either very sheltered and naïve, or willing to take very serious risks and are playing at being sophisticated. (Most are sheltered and naïve.) They tend to be loners, and may not have many offline friends. They are looking for love. Some are tricked or conned into a meeting. (Generally boys are either tricked or are curious about and interested in exploring homosexuality Girls tend to believe they are in love and will marry the predator some day.) Many believe that they are communicating with someone around their own age (at least initially).

Go over each of these questions yourself. Then talk to your child. Does your child fit the profile of a typical Internet-related sexual victim? The young teen from Connecticut didn't. So, even if these don’t fit your child, you still need to be vigilant.

Additionally, to be safe, they should not include personally identifiable information, such as real full name, addresses, phone numbers, photos, descriptive information from which this information could easily be found (like a picture of them in front of their school, with the name of the school displayed on the building, referring to their sports team at school by name or by wearing something with identifying information in a photo, such as your school name, team name or something else that would give away information) or permit anyone to send them an e-mail at their real account. (If you have any reason to believe that your child wouldn't tell you the truth, refer below to my suggestion for handling a troubled child, on how to search for it yourself and consider using a monitoring software, like Spectorsoft.com.)

Bottomline you're still the parent, and all computers have a plug you can pull if they aren't following your rules!

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Parts of this Web site were taken from Parry Aftab's book The Parent's Guide to Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace. Marvel and all character names and the distinctive likenesses thereof are trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc., and are used with permission. TM & © 2004 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved. www.marvel.com. Super Heroes is a Co-owned registered Trademark.
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