Parents learn the dangers of the Internet

Published 3:00 am Friday, May 8, 2015

The Internet and the World Wide Web are completely different worlds that hold so much information that it is unfathomable to the human mind, but that is not new information to anyone in this day and age. The thing that may go unnoticed is how kids are using both in ways that are harmful to themselves when they, in fact, do not notice it either.

“We think they know how the technology works because they are constantly around it,” said Dr. Greg Price, chief of technology and security at Troy University. Price led a workshop called “Lost in Cyberspace” at Pike Liberal Arts School Thursday night, allowing parents to hear information previously given to the PLAS students about protecting youth online.

“[The Internet and the World Wide Web] can do more than a traditional weapon,” Price said.

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With all the apps and websites out there today, it is hard to keep track of what young people are doing online. Apps even exist to make the appearance of a phone’s home screen look “innocent” to the average eye, when in reality there are several inappropriate apps being used on the phone.

“This issue is so complex and so large that it requires constant attention, constant awareness and constant engagement to be confident that you are working the problem thoroughly,” Price said.

Apps such as Vine, Yik Yak and Snapchat may seem benign at first; however, many are being used for bullying and pornography. According to Price, the No. 1 producer of child pornography is children under the age of 18 because they believe that taking certain photos or videos is harmless if they only share it with a few people.

“Nothing goes away,” he said. “The Internet was designed to keep forever. There is no cleansing process. The data just keep accumulating.”

There are people who know how to access any kind of data they want and are able to access these types of photos and videos, and they sell and make money off of them. Child pornography. A common app, Tumblr, is full of pornographic material, which takes up 60 percent of the site’s content.

Price described a dark corner of the Internet that is referred to as the Dark Net. This area of the Internet used to be very hard to access, but now it is extremely easy. It is in the Dark Net that children are auctioned off “in an eBay type format” in a way of human trafficking.

“Things you are exposed to are limitless, and kids are naturally curious,” Price said.

These were among the warnings Price and others members of Thieves of Innocence presented to the parents gathered for the public forum. “We felt like it was important to address the parents because the parents unfortunately don’t know what their kids are doing all the time on their phones,” said Amy Garrett, assistant headmaster at PLAS. “They have their phones on all the time from morning until night. Sometimes you don’t realize what they’re looking at. We wanted to update parents and give them some information on what is out there, what they need to be looking for and what they can watch out for. We are all about protecting our students.

“The Internet is so beneficial,” she continued. “Having anything at your fingertips is extremely beneficial. It has made a huge difference, but at the same time, there are lots of negative issues that come along with having everything at your fingertips.”

For more information about what to look for to protect young people while they are online, visit