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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Police encourage Internet safety

Do you know what information your children are sharing with complete strangers over the Internet? More and more Bellevue parents are learning about the dark side of popular social networking sites that enable people to easily post photos, videos and personal information for the world at large.

Bellevue Police now receive frequent reports of identity theft, property theft and other crimes from parents and young people as a result of online interactions.

"We investigate cases like this regularly," Police Chief Linda Pillo said. "We make arrests when we can, but prosecution is sometimes difficult. Internet users should exercise considerable caution with their identities and the identities of their children."

Here are a few suggestions:  

Be reasonable and set reasonable expectations. Try to understand your children's needs, interests and curiosity. Remember what it was like when you were their age.

Be open with your teens and encourage them to come to you if they encounter a problem online. If they tell you about someone or something they encountered, your first response should not be to blame them or take away their Internet privileges. Work with them to help avoid problems in the future, and remember -- how you respond will determine whether they confide in you the next time they encounter a problem.

Help your kids understand what information should be private. Tell them why it's important to keep some things -- about themselves, family members and friends -- to themselves. Information such as their full name, social security number, street address, phone number and family financial information -- like bank or credit card account numbers -- is private and should stay that way. Tell them not to choose a screen name that gives away too much personal information.

Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child's website. Some social networking sites have strong privacy settings. Show your child how to use these settings to limit who can view their online profile, and explain to them why this is important.

Talk to your kids about avoiding sex talk online. Recent research shows that teens who talk about sex with strangers online are more likely to come in contact with a predator.  If you're concerned that your child is engaging in risky online behavior, you can search the sites they visit to see what information they're posting. Try searching by their name, nickname, school, hobbies, grade or area where you live.

Take extra steps to protect younger kids. Keep the computer in an open area like the kitchen or family room, so you can keep an eye on what your kids are doing online. Use the Internet with them to help develop safe surfing habits.

Go where your kids go online. Sign up for -- and use -- the social networking spaces that your kids visit. Let them know that you're there, and help teach them how to act as they socialize online.

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Contact Information

450 110th Ave. NE
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA 98009
Contact: Officer Seth Tyler
Phone: 425-452-4129
E-mail: bellevuepd@bellevuewa.gov

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