CBS 5 from San Francisco, has a report from San Jose Police Detective David Gonzalez about parental concern regarding links between missing teens and Myspace. He points out that predators troll the forums and blogs looking for targets and recommends the following:

What we tell parents is that kids should not have a computer with Internet access in their own room,” said Gonzalez. “Computers should always be in a common area.”
In addition, children should not be given the password to access the Internet from the family computer, according to Gonzalez.
“The parents should log into the computer for the child,” he said.

Well, the Internet, online chatting and evil predators are all here to stay. Are these appropriate longterm solutions? I would add: educating children in a similar way to what we do now offline – don’t get in cars with strangers, don’t talk to strangers, don’t accept sweets from strangers. If a stranger says he is a policeman ask to see his badge. These warnings were not so important back in the good ol’ days when every town was a neighbourhood watch program and every mother stayed home to wait for their little darlings to wander in from school. I’m sure that as the working mother/single parent phenomena exploded, so did the vulnerability of children. Is there a real difference between meeting a predator online and one offline? Who’s watching, where are they, what do they do? I’d like to see a real study done on this, anyone know of one?

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