Lavasoft News, September '06

The Changing Face of Children's Online Enemies
MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Hi5, Fropper, BingBox... The number of social networking sites for children and teenagers seems to be endless. Unfortunately, so do the online threats that these "cyber friend" sites could pose to households.

The popularity of such sites as hangouts for children is increasing in all corners of the globe. A recent article by the Gulf Times, published out of Qatar, depicts how more and more Indian children, some as young as 10 years old, are turning to Internet chat sites.

The concern, for parents worldwide, is that they may be unaware of the full extent of their children's surfing habits. "Many parents may take precautions in your own households but you cannot control what your children might be exposed to outside of your home or not in your presence," the Gulf Times reports.

"The biggest danger," the Gulf Times maintains, "is the possibility of predators targeting these children."

Because of the acute risk of physical predators that are known to lurk on the Internet, many parents already take precautions to educate children on these types of dangers.

However, these online enemies have also morphed to include malicious software looking for a way to creep into your computer and invade the privacy of your confidential information. Certain popular sites for children may even try to download programs without your kids asking for them.

Most children know that they should not give out personal or confidential details, but it is not difficult for malware and spyware, which are constantly being developed, to gain access to information.

Preventative measures that parents can take begin with installing anti-spyware software, an anti-virus program, and a firewall.

Other positive steps include educating children on the possible dangers of Internet use. Online sites, such as the NetSmartz Workshop, an interactive safety resource for online education powered by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, gives parents tips on how to talk to their children about proper Internet use. The site can be accessed at www.netsmartz.org

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