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Who’s talking to your kids online?

To borrow from an old public-service announcement: It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where—online—your children are? If the answer is, “Romping around on social-networking sites,” it’s time for you to take some action. Millions of minors post all sorts of personal information on sites like MySpace. Sadly, such sites have become virtual playgrounds for adult sexual predators, too, placing a new responsibility of the shoulders of already-overworked parents: safeguarding their kids who go online.

What makes sites like so risky is that predators can develop long-term relationships with several children simultaneously. “They’ll contact the youth repetitively for up to six months,” Dr. Sharon Cooper, CEO of Developmental and Forensic Pediatrics in Fort Bragg, N.C., told me. The predators usually present themselves as about 20 years old, an appealing age to , according to Dr. Cooper. They talk to the child so frequently and for such a long period of time that by the time they propose meeting, the children don’t see the predator as a stranger. “They see them as people who understand them better than their own parents,” she says.

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OSA Editorial Comments:

This is a great article and we should all take head to be sure we know what our children are doing online, and who’s talking to you kids online?

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Bill Wardell

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