How much do you know about your child's online activity?

By Rebecca Lane - bio | email

HOXIE, AR (KAIT) - Statistics show that one in every five children is solicited for sex on the internet.  What are you doing to prevent your child from being a statistic?

"It's been scary," Donna Pinkston explains, "There's been parents where their kid can't even have their name on their shirt because they're afraid someone will be watching for that student."

Pinkston is the Hoxie High School Counselor.  Students approach her regularly about strangers wanting personal information from them through the internet.  She also shares cases where students give out information or pictures of themselves and later realize it was not a fellow teenager but a grown up receiving it.  One way of watching over their students online activities includes how school officials have set up their emailing system.  Students can only receive emails from other students while they are at school.

High school student, Maddi Woodard, says the idea of an older person posing as a teen is "nerve-racking."

"If you get on [the internet] and you think you know somebody," she explains, "you have to make sure you know who they are."

Fellow student Bethany Wright knows the dangers of online predators and practices caution.  She says her parents have given her a healthy balance of protection and trust.

"They don't want to be too strict about it," she explains, "but they do want to know that I am being careful and safe."

Pinkston says some parents have no clue what their child can be exposed to.  She explains that online predators know how to target children. Knowing their lingo, pretending they are the only ones who understand them, and pretending to be their friend quickly gains a child's trust.

Pinkston advises the use of online programs to monitor your child's internet interaction.  She also says to keep the family computer in an area of the home where traffic flows.  This will keep the child from being alone and unsupervised.  Also, she says to keep the two-way communication with your child open.  She adds that if parents could, they would keep their child in a bubble.

"You build a value-system in them and you hope they stick with it and ask you questions along the way."

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