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The Talk Isn't Just About Sex These Days

Internet safety is a top concern for parents with web-surfing children. Trend Micro has a free eguide to help parents have a 21st Century talk with kids.

The phrase the talk ain’t just the sex talk with kids now; in this new century the talk now includes discussions about internet safety.

This holiday season it’s estimated that 85 percent of kids in the age group of 12 to 17 want some sort of electronic gadget such as an iPhone or iPad, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Gadgets that can take them to the world wide web and all the wonders—and dangers—that await them there.

Dangers that include cyber bullying, “grooming”—a term for when a sexual predator  befriends a child—or innocently downloading software that contains a virus or worm.

“People tell us they are very, very concerned about internet safety,” says Natalie Severino, director of product marketing for Trend Micro, an internet security company based in Cupertino.

A recent survey conducted by Trend Micro found that an overwhelming number of parents surveyed were concerned about internet safety for their children.

That concern led to the company publishing a free eguide, The Online Protection Talk that offers parents tips and advice on how to have the talk with their children to help keep them safe.

Whether kids are surfing the web and click on what they think is an ad but are taken to an unrelated site, or they are chatting on a social media site such as Facebook where a predator can pretend to be someone they are not, there are things out there that look OK, but when the veil of internet is peeled away, something dangerous, or at the very least bothersome, may lurk. It’s something all parents should be aware of, Severino says.

A 2011 Consumer Report found that of the 20 million kids using Facebook 7.5 million were younger than 13 in spite of the social media giant’s own rules that prohibit users that young.

An unwanted Facebook experience can be a simple slip-up or red-face moment for some. Severino related an anecdotal account of a young child who “friended” an older cousin on Facebook. The older cousin wasn’t thinking about the kid being able to read a post about a sexual encounter, but that’s what happened and the kid’s mom was left trying to explain what it all meant.

Last March Trend Micro launched a product specifically designed to give parents help with monitoring what kids are doing on social networking sites, Severino says.

But it’s more than just buying a product to help keep children from venturing into dark corners of the web, she says.

“Kids—teens or younger kids—don’t understand the consequences of what they’re doing. If you’re walking through a bad neighborhood, you probably have your guard up.  Things you find when you go online are not necessarily so obvious,” Severino says.

That’s where the eguide can come in handy. Included are tips on how to talk to your child about online stealing, indecent exposure, “oversharing”, cyber bullying, how to guard against predators, how to protect your private information, and much more. It also includes a glossary of commonly used words and phrases that can help educate both parents and children about staying safe in the virtual world.

In conversations she's had with parents Severino says some parents are a bit overwhelmed by the talk because some children are the more tech-savvy family members. The eguide should help level that playing field, she says.

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