Detours on the Information Superhighway

Published 5:51 pm Friday, May 11, 2012

I think the old saying is, “The Internet is for everybody.”

It probably shouldn’t be.

I’m beginning to think there should be some driver’s license-like test administered for all would-be Internet users. Some people just can’t handle that kind of responsibility and freedom.

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Over the past year or so, the Demopolis Police Department has arrested nearly a dozen men for allegedly attempting to contact a local child for illicit purposes.

In some cases, they’ve allegedly sent some explicit pictures.

Thankfully, in all those cases, those “children” have been police officers.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how – and why – a place chock full of so many good things and so much information has turned into yet another place that isn’t safe for children to play.

Take Facebook for example. How many people has that service reconnected with long lost classmates and friends? Tons.

The site, if used properly and as intended, is fantastic. It’s revolutionary.

If you don’t know how to handle it, it’s a booby trap.

In an effort to provide a safe and at least somewhat mature environment, Facebook requires users be at least 13 years old.

I know several parents that, for one reason or another, have helped their youngster skirt the rules and, as a result, I know a few 8 and 9 year olds with Facebook accounts.

On the surface, there’s not a lot wrong with that – aside from it being against their rules – but if you’ve paid any attention to the work of the DPD you’d know that you’ve potentially invited some rather unsavory characters into your child’s life.

You can monitor those accounts as closely as you like but eventually the child’s natural curiosity is going to cause them to accept that one friend request, or exchange that one message that puts them in harm’s way.

We, the parents, are really the only thing keeping people like William Brown (allegedly) away from our children. We are the only ones who can protect them. The DPD can only do so much.

The Internet is a big place and our local officers can’t police every connection into every household around the clock.

Take every opportunity to educate your children about how to safely navigate the Web. Because if you don’t, someone like William Brown will be glad to.