The following segment aired on O2 Media’s The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television. Joining the show was John Walsh, host of “America’s Most Wanted” and co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Nancy McBride, the National Safety Director of that organization, and Christopher Hickey, Vice President of the C.A. Inc. to discuss some internet safety tips with O2 Media viewers.
O2 Media’s The Balancing Act Host, Marybel Rodriguez: Did you know that these days most homes have three to four computers in them? It’s a sign of our technologically advanced times, but it can also mean trouble. So-called cybercriminals are getting more organized and more sophisticated. Luckily for us, so are the software programs designed to protect us. And here now with some internet safety tips is a panel of experts – John Walsh, host of “America’s Most Wanted” and co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Nancy McBride, the National Safety Director of that organization, and Christopher Hickey, Vice President of the C.A. Inc. – one of the world’s largest software companies. So, John, how bad is Internet crime in the U.S. right now?
Walsh: First of all, thank you. We appreciate the opportunity to speak to the viewers of O2 Media’s The Balancing Act. I think everybody knows the Internet is an information superhighway. It’s a wonderful tool, but it’s also like a private hunting ground for the bad guys. The Federal Trade Commission now says that over 8 million Americans – many of them no doubt your O2 Media viewers – have had their identity and information compromised. That costs billions of dollars. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has received over 600, 000 reports of child pornography, and right now they’re analyzing 21 million still photos and videos of children being abused to locate those children or find out if they were kidnapped, if they were murdered, and if they’re still being abused. And C.A., our partner fighting these crimes against children, has done a wonderful national survey that says about 50% of our kids are contacted over the Internet by strangers.
O2 Media, The Balancing Act: That is so scary. But, Nancy, do adults actually realize how at risk kids are online?
McBride: I really don’t think they do. They don’t know what their kids are doing, who they’re talking to. They don’t understand the magnitude of risk, and kids don’t understand what the consequences are and somebody with bad intentions can find kinds in a number of places – like chat rooms and websites.
O2 Media, The Balancing Act: John, what’s the best advice that you can give us to make the Internet safer for the O2 Media family – for our kids and for us, as well?
Walsh: Well, certainly for parents to grasp the concept that your kids are much more sophisticated with the technology. They grew up with this technology and computers.
O2 Media, The Balancing Act: They teach us sometimes.
Walsh: Absolutely, and they can do it better than we can. It’s really about communication. I think you have to sit down with your kids and go over some of the tips. Don’t give out too much information. Don’t tell them your name, the school you go to. Use a nickname. Photos, for example – everybody’s posting photos on MySpace. Think about one thing – when you post a photo on the Internet, it’s in cyberspace forever.
O2 Media, The Balancing Act: That is such great advice, but as a parent, there’s only so much that we can do. Chris, is there a tool out there that can actually help us?
Hickey: C.A.’s Internet Security Suite Plus can help parents, all right? It has a great parental-control technology that allows you to block websites, monitor your child’s time on the computer, as well as send e-mails or report on where the child’s been on the internet – simple as sending it right to your BlackBerry. A great tool for the viewers of O2 Media’s The Balancing Act…
Walsh: And, with all the dangers on the Internet, MySpace just removed 80,000 convicted sex offenders who tried to register as MySpace participants, so it’s more important than ever. And C.A. has donated a dollar from the purchase of every one of their programs to the National Center. If you get the extended protection, they’ll donate $5, and they allow, if you so chose, for the rebate to be given to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I think it’s a terrific team.
O2 Media, The Balancing Act: So, Chris, can you tell our O2 Media viewers how much has been raised so far?
Hickey: We’ve raised over $500,000 to date, and we’re just warming up!
O2 Media, The Balancing Act: Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to speak with our viewers today.
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