Assistant AG talks Internet safety with parents

LAKE PLACID - A small crowd gathered Monday night in the Lake Placid Middle/High School auditorium to hear a presentation on Internet safety.

Assistant Attorney General Glen Michaels was on hand to field questions from concerned parents and to offer advice about how to protect children and adolescents from the dangers of identity theft, on-line sexual predators and cyber-bullying.

Michaels, a father of four daughters and one son, shared his own experiences with the Internet as well as his expertise as a lawyer and assistant attorney general.

Some of the advice Michaels shared was as simple as the location of the family computer.

"An old colleague of mine told me to put the computer in the family room, or the dining room - anywhere where I can monitor my children's actions," he said.

"They know, if I see the screen being minimized or changing suddenly as I come into the field of vision, that's a big warning sign that they are doing something that we need to talk about," he said.

The audience consisted only of adults, some were concerned parents, while others, like Northwood School assistant headmaster Tom Broderick, were administrators looking to gain more tools for understanding the rapidly expanding world of on-line social networking.

Broderick's concerns lie mostly with parents, he said children and teens are Internet savvy and speak the digital language fluently.

Parents, on the other hand, are often far behind.

"Kids today are digital natives," he said. "The problem is mostly with us adults; we don't speak that language, and the kids speak it much quicker and much better."

While sexual predators are a concern for Broderick, his aim is to get teens to understand the consequences of their on-line actions.

"The bigger problem is their image," he said. "What's going to happen to them if they post a photo that will be used against them? Right now, 32 percent of all human resource managers in the United Kingdom search MySpace and social network sites and they look for stuff, and 24 percent of people that apply lose a job because of something they posted."

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