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State offers computer program to keep kids safe online



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Kids incorporate technology into their lives at light speed, so the state of Utah wants parents to have the tools they need to keep their children safe online. On Wednesday the state introduced a new program now available to Utah parents at no cost.

The program is called Wired With Wisdom. It gives parents a place to go online to learn what they need to know to manage their family's Internet experience without getting overwhelmed.


43% of youth were victims of cyberbullying in the last year. Cyberbullying is most prevalent among 15- and 16-year-olds, particularly among girls.

Karl Cheney, of Bountiful, has four children--ages 13 to 21. He considers himself tech savvy but knows his kids may be way ahead of him in some areas.

"We actually have house rules posted by the computers," Cheney said.

At first look, he liked the program and one-stop shopping for answers.

"The industry changes and evolves every day. To keep up with that is next to impossible," Cheney said.

On Wednesday, Utah's attorney general and legislative leaders launched Wired with Wisdom. It tackles issues like e-mail safety, personal websites, social networking, cyber-bullying and how to avoid online predators.

**What is… cyberbullying?**
Cyberbullying is the willful and repeated harm inflicted through an electronic medium. Common cyberbullying include name-calling, spreading of gossip or sensitive information, threats, teasing, sexual harassment, being ignored or disrespected, and being deceived by a bully who is misrepresenting themselves.
"The best way to protect our kids is to provide them with the tools that they need to protect themselves," Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said. "Education is absolutely critical." Web Wise Kids partnered with the Entertainment Software Association to design the program.

"This program is a tool for parents to equip themselves to find out what their kids are doing online, what kind of things are happening online; getting up to speed with the terms their kids are using," explained Judi Westberg-Warren, president of Web Wise Kids.

The program is one way to get parents and kids speaking the same language about the dangers online, but it's also a way to get them engaged in conversations about solutions.

**Did you know…**
• 64% of teens post photos or videos of themselves online. More than half post info about where they live; 58% don't think it is unsafe • Nearly one in 10 teens (8%) has posted his or her cell phone number online • 23% of kids ages 8-17 admit to doing things online their parents wouldn't condone • 25% of teens say their parents know "little" or "nothing" about what they do online • 69% of teens regularly receive personal messages from people they don't know • 23% of children have had an encounter with a stranger on the Internet • 79% of sexual solicitations occurred to youth while using their home computer • 90% of sexual solicitations are directed to youth ages 13 and older
Despite aggressive and successful efforts to thwart online predators and pornographers, the attorney general calls them highly motivated. "The predators know they may be interacting with one of our police officers, and yet they still show up night after night," Shurtleff said.

This program gives parents confidence to deal with that.

"Take the effort and the time. Invest those few minutes with your family. Understand [and] use these tools, and they will pay dividends," said Utah House Speaker David Clark.

This program is available to all Utah parents at no cost. Visit www.webwisekids.org/WWW-UT and enter the password after you register: wise. You can access the program any time, any where.

Jed Boal

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