A federal agent says Iowa parents should be involved in virtually all aspects of their kids’ lives, especially when it comes to the Internet. Robert Georgai, a white collar crime specialist with the F-B-I, says with the growing popularity of social websites like MySpace and Facebook, parents need to be especially aware of what information their kids are sharing online.
"If they’re going to put online, ‘Hey I’m going to go see the Harry Potter movie tonight at midnight,’ well, it’s not that hard for a bad guy to figure out exactly where that child’s going to be," Georgai says. "Be careful about that kind of information and we always encourage parents to be actively involved in their kid’s lives." An Omaha police officer was arrested last week on charges he used the Internet to lure what he thought was a 14-year-old girl for a sexual encounter. Georgai says predators are out there, lurking.
He says, "The most important thing a child can do is make sure they’re not revealing too much information about themselves and they have to be pretty cautious about who they allow on their friends list." He says moms and dads need to get online routinely to keep an eye on what their kids are telling the world. "We always recommend to the parents that they actively check their child’s profile, that they actively become a member of their (child’s) social networking site," Georgai says. "If a child knows that their parent is part of their FaceBook team they might not put out the exact same information that they would if they thought their parents weren’t looking."
Georgai says it’s unfortunate, but on websites like FaceBook, the number of friends a person has is a status symbol, which encourages them to continue giving access to people who may not have good intentions. Clarinda Police Chief Keith Brothers reminded residents of an Arizona crime in which a home was burglarized by someone who learned the home would be vacant on Twitter.