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September Feature Article: Cyber Smart Cyber Safe
Back to school...and back-on-line...not that most kids haven’t stayed connected all through the summer!  Browsing the Internet is like having the world’s largest library and entertainment system at your fingertips. Kids can read stories, tour museums, visit other countries, play games, look at photographs, shop, and do research to help with homework.  Unfortunately, it also comes with risks.

First, the facts…In a recent survey involving 1500, 10 to 17– year olds , the following statistics emerged:

  • 1 in 3 had unwanted exposure to pornographic pictures

  • 1 in 7 had received sexual solicitations

  • 1 in 11 had received threats

  • 1 in 25 had received unsolicited gifts from on-line contacts

  • Of the 1 in 7 youth who were contacted...only 12% told their parents!

  • In another survey involving 10 to 17 year olds, these facts were revealed:

  • 34% had posted their real names, telephone numbers, home addresses, or the names of their schools online where anyone could see.

  • 45% had posted their dates of birth or ages.

  • 18% had posted pictures of themselves.

Now is the time to remind your child about the importance of being smart and safe on-line!

Some sites and services ask users to post a “profile” with their age, sex, hobbies, and interests. While these profiles help kids “connect” and share common interests, potential exploiters can and do use these profiles to search for victims.


Urge kids to restrict access to their profiles so only those on their contact lists are able to view them. Explain to them unrestricted posting of profiles places their personal information in a public forum and could put them at risk from those who wish to take advantage of such information.

  • Kids can’t “take back” the online text and images they’ve entered. Once online, “chat” as well as other web postings become public information.  Many web sites are “cached” by search   engines, and photos and text can be retrieved long after the site has been deleted.  Watch what you post!

  • Kids don’t need to enter a chatroom to “chat” via the Internet. They also communicate with others on gaming sites; on IM sites; and via Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks, which enable computer-to-computer access.  Remind students of these “back roads” predators use to gain access to them.

  • Encourage them to choose gender-neutral screen names or nicknames — such as their initials or a word. Make sure the name doesn’t include information revealing their identity or location.

  • Remind kids to use the privacy settings on social-networking sites to restrict access to their “spaces” or blogs to only people they know in person.  Kids sometimes compete to see who has the greatest number of contacts and will add new members to their lists even if they don’t know them in person. 

  • Kids have been punished by their families; denied entry into schools; and even not hired because of    dangerous, demeaning, or harmful information found on their personal websites or blogs.

  • Don’t know much about computers and computer lingo...LEARN!  Knowledge is your best defense.

  • Keep the computer in the “family arena”!  Computers should NOT be in out of the way locations at home.


Contact Information

NW Prevention Resource Center

Deb Ruen, BS, CPN

11 East 4th Street
PO Box 447
Lemmon, SD 57638


  Dedicated to empowering individuals and families to build a better future!

Three Rivers Counseling
l NW Prevention Resource Center
11 East 4th Street l PO Box 447 l Lemmon, SD 57638
Ph: 605.374.3862 l Fax: 605.374.3864 l Email: