News 12 First at Five, May 22, 2007.
Aiken Co., SC---Children as young as seven years old now have MySpace accounts. On Tuesday, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office is warning kids in elementary schools about going online. The U.S. Attorney General recently demanded MySpace to erase more than 800 accounts of registered sex offenders.
As chat rooms, instant messaging and social networking sites like MySpace increase in popularity so are the chances your child may be logging on to danger. "Kids think they're talking to classmates but they could be talking to a predator," says Sgt. Steve Deibel. Deibel taught students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades at East Aiken Elementary how to spot risky behavior online. "I was here a couple of weeks ago and found out 2nd graders are already instant messaging and my 5-year-old knows how to get on the internet so surely 3rd, 4th and 5th graders can get on the internet and do some harm," Deibel says.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about 1 in 7 children have been solicited online. 34% had experienced an unwanted exposure to sexual material and 4% had someone ask to meet them; call them on the phone or send them money or gifts. "It's scary not surprising but something to be aware of and I try to teach my kids to stay off those sites." says parent, Catherine Stevens.
Sgt. Deibel suggests telling your kids to stay away from chat rooms all together and to take any personal information like where your child goes to school off any website.