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Police campaign raises awareness on dangers of social networking

By: Sydney Maynard, Press Tribune Intern
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What: Social Networking presentation

When: 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22

Where: Coyote Ridge Elementary School, 1751 Morningstar Drive in Roseville

When: 6 p.m. Feb. 19

Where: Oakmont High School, 1710 Cirby Way in Roseville

Info: www.roseville.ca.us/police

 

Statistics of internet users:

56 percent post personal information online

43 percent interact with unknown people

35 percent have unknown people on friend lists

26 percent share information to unknown people

15 percent download images from file sharing

13 percent seek porn on the internet

9 percent use the internet to harass people with whom they are angry

5 percent talk to unknown people about sex

With advances in technology and social networking sites, teenagers are constantly discovering new ways to communicate. This can lead to sexting, cyber-bullying and talking with strangers.

Social networking sites are not always safe and the Roseville Police Department has been raising awareness with a campaign targeted to middle and high school parents throughout the Placer County area. One such presentation took place Jan. 15 at Roseville High School. Detective Brent Northrup of the Roseville Police Department spoke on the issue.

According to Northrup, 25 percent of social network users use false names, 13 percent post partially nude or nude pictures, 39 percent post things they regret and 37 percent use social networking as a way to mock others.

“Until it directly affects (a kid), they will not believe anything you tell them,” Northrup said, referring to the statistics.  

Northrup encourages parents to be aware of what their children are doing in their spare time because there is a chance they could be participating in one of these activities.  

Northrup explained the effects of cyber-bullying and sexting. Being bullied can lead to lower self esteem, depression, lowered school achievement, illness and absenteeism. It interferes with a child’s learning and creates a threatening environment. Bullies and others involved may face suspension, expulsion or civil liability suits.

If a parent thinks their child is sending or receiving inappropriate pictures, they need to cooperate with law enforcement, be ready to sign a consent form and instruct their child to not erase or alter information, he said.  

There are actions parents can take to increase their child’s internet safety. Northrup said this includes avoiding the “my child wouldn’t do this” mentality, monitoring internet and cell phone use and knowing passwords to their accounts.

“I think for the most part (parents) do and will (take necessary precautions),” Northrup said. “We have become a society of very busy people but by and large I think they will do what they can to protect their child.”

Ron Baioni, a parent of teenagers, attended the presentation because he wanted to stay up-to-date with the technologies his children are using. He found it to be beneficial.

“(I wanted) to find out what kinds of things are going on out there, in terms of the programs on iPods and phones,” Baioni said. “That was my main focus.”

There are two upcoming presentations at Coyote Ridge Elementary School and Oakmont High School.

To find out more, contact the Roseville Police Department at www.roseville.ca.us/police.