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Internet expert warns students: 'Think before you post'

February 29th, 2008 12:00 am by Christan M. Thomas

Approximately 93 percent of kids are online, and if MySpace were a country it would be the fourth largest in the world.

That’s according to a presentation given at Kingsport’s Robinson Middle School Friday by Cris Clapp of Enough is Enough — an organization “dedicated to protecting children and families from the Internet dangers of pornography and sexual predators so that they can enjoy the enormous benefits that the Internet offers.”

Clapp’s visit was part of Robinson’s “Technology Safety Week,” held Feb. 25-29.

“How many of you all are online every day?” Clapp asked the audience of Robinson students. “Pretty much everyone. That’s about standard. ... It’s a wonderful technology, but we’re going to talk a little bit today about how to stay safe.”

Though Clapp said the benefits of the Internet outweigh the problems, it is still extremely important for students to exercise caution online. Clapp shared stories of teens and pre-teens who have been victimized by Internet predators and cyber bullies, and even those who have had their identities stolen before they graduated high school.

She also pointed out that information students put on social networking sites now can be accessed by colleges, potential employers and even law enforcement.

“A lot of teens are not concerned with information that they have on social networking pages ... (but) only put stuff up there that you would want your parents to see, that you wouldn’t mind your principal seeing, that you wouldn’t mind law enforcement (seeing),” Clapp said.

Clapp offered some additional tips for students to stay safe online.

•Be aware people will be looking at the content you post online and can use it to harm you. Thus, don’t post anything inappropriate — there are no “take-backs” online.

“Think before you post, because nothing is truly private,” Clapp said.

•Talk to a parent or trusted adult if you come across anything online that is scary or inappropriate.

•Be as anonymous as possible. Do not give out any personal information or identifying details, such as address, phone number, school, etc., online. Also, make sure your friends do not post anything about you either.

•Be honest about your age.

•Set Web sites and buddy lists to “private.”

•Only approve “friends” or chat with people online that you know in real life. Recognize that you cannot detect a disguised predator

•Be careful when downloading attachments. Never download attachments or open e-mail from people you do not know.

All of these precautions, Clapp said, are simply to protect yourself online.

“I do not want any of you all to be exploited in the way that too many kids are being exploited today,” Clapp said.

For more information on Enough is Enough visit

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