(WICHITA, Kan.)—Police want more parents to start paying attention to what their children are doing online. In the last month, police searched for two Kansas girls thought to be missing. Both times they found the girls with guys the met on the internet. It's a growing problem police say parents can help control.
"The internet has really changed the way that children interact with the world and not always for good," said Bill Ramsey. He owns The Bill Guy Technology Solutions and is a dad. He says you have to know who your kids are chatting with on places like Facebook. "There are so many parents that say I don't care that they put that stuff up there and I tell them they should. You should care," he said.
He cares so much, he requires his 15-year-old step daughter provide her passwords so he can access everything, including text messages. He says she doesn't like it but knows if she breaks the rules she'll lose her computer privileges. By checking her email recently, he found emails from a guy who asked she send pictures of herself. She didn't do it, but he says she also didn't understand why it was a big deal. "So what this is a person I'll never see. But you don't know this. You don't know who this is," he said.
Ramsey was able to find the boy who lived in Arkansas and called his parents. He says that also shows how easy it is to track people down with information posted online. The National Center for Exploited and Missing Children say one in seven youth between the ages of 10 and 17 have received a sexual solicitation on the internet. Ramsey says that's enough to know what your kids are up to. "It's not an invasion of their privacy," he said.
Obviously Ramsey is good with computers and has an easier time keeping track on his child's on-line activity. But he says it's not difficult if you put in some effort. He says having passwords is the most helpful but it's also good just to visit their Facebook page. If getting a password won't work, he says there are several software programs that offer various amounts of protection and some at a cost. He recommends checking out, www.webwatchernow.com, www.netnanny.com and www.cyberpatrol.com.