BOLTON LANDING - A police investigator in plainclothes recently walked into Bolton Central School and chatted with students, who shared information with him about where they lived, their daily routine and their school activities.
Minutes later in a presentation to a class of students, the officer, Warren County Sheriff's Department Investigator Mo Aldrich, took off his sportcoat - and then they saw his badge and gun.
"Did you know who I was?" he asked, to the shock of the students, warning them of the dangers of sharing that kind of personal information with people online.
Aldrich said the students, in a school setting, had felt comfortable sharing the information, but he warned them that they also might likewise feel comfortable at home when they're online - but they should nevertheless keep all that type of information to themselves.
He followed up that dramatic exercise with a detailed description of off-limit online chat, emails, instant messages, cell phone texting, and restrictions on photos sent by cell phone and over the internet.
The same goes for chats on X-box Live and Playstation 3, Aldrich said.
Regardless of how comfortable a situation seems, students should not give any personal information - including their name or age, clues to their location, or the name of their school.
Children also shouldn't give out details of their routine, like where and when they get to school or the times they are at home alone, or details of their school activities, he said.
Also, photos, videos or live webcam transmissions are potentially dangerous, because they can transmit clues - like a name of a student's school on a sweatshirt - to a person's identity and location, he said.
"This is all information a predator would consider very valuable," Aldrich said. "There's potentially a dangerous outcome.
Aldrich should know. Among his various police duties, he investigates online predators,.