Make Sure Sexual Predators Aren't Phoning Your Kids

You don't need a computer to access the Internet anymore, and neither do sexual predators who may be eyeing your underage son or daughter. A telephone is all they need.

And they use them. This St. Petersburg Times article tells how a convicted predator, released earlier this year from prison, has been arrested again for contacting a juvenile. The intended victim, an underage girl, told authorities that the accused had been contacting her by phone for three months--a violation of the terms of his release.

I strongly suspect that those calls were not made on the family landline, but on the girl's own, private cellphone. For teenagers and pre-teens, a cellphone can offer much too much privacy.

As a parent, you have many good reasons to give your child a cellphone. If your son or daughter is late coming home from school, a single text or phone call can reassure you that they're safe at a friend's house. And if they're somewhere where they don't feel safe, they can call you and get a ride home.

But that cellphone comes with its own inherent dangers, so you need to gain some control. First, create a bedtime ritual: The kids must plug their phone into a charger in the living room, then brush their teeth and go to bed. Depriving them of the phone at bedtime not only lowers their opportunities for inappropriate calls and texts, but also increases the likelihood of a good night's sleep.

And while the phone is charging in the living room, check the call and text histories for anything suspicious. Make sure, for instance, that they're not contacting an adult that you don't know.

Finally, if your child or teenager is using an Android Smart Phone, install Trend Micro's Mobile Protection, which offers parental controls. You can buy this as a separate program, but it also comes with the Windows-protecting Titanium Maximum Security.

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