RANKIN COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - The Taylors are a tech savvy family in Rankin County. All three children navigate the computer. 12-year-old Olivia and 9-year-old Jason have their own cell phones.
"I usually use it when I get home, and I usually text," said Jason Taylor with cell phone in hand.
"I didn't have to use my mom and dad's, and I could text freely. I didn't have to ask 'Mom can I text?' It was just my own," said Olivia Taylor.
Taking a closer look, their technology time is closely monitored by their mother. The phones are charged in the living room at night. Their texts and calls are reviewed every few days. The laptop stays in the dining room.
"Everyone can be around them at the same time. If I'm cooking dinner or doing laundry I can still see or hear what they are doing and check to make sure they're on the proper sites," said mother Jennifer Taylor.
Child safety experts teach parents to be watchful because predators are aggressive. "One out of every five girls will be solicited in some sort of way for sexual activity on the Internet. For one out of 12 boys it is the same," said Rob Lehman with Operation Safe Side Kids of Mississippi. "You just don't know who you are talking to on the Internet. Somebody can portray themselves to be anybody they can be, and kids won't think or don't think they'll be lied to on the Internet."
Parents should take the computer out of a child's bedroom. Instead, keep it in a shared space. Never allow your child to give out personal information especially over e-mail or social networking sites.
"What school you go to, where you hang out, where you normally hang out on the weekends, all this info should be guarded," said Lehman.
Internet accounts should be in the parent's name with parents controlling passwords. According to the FBI, a child has a 100% chance of meeting a predator in chat rooms. Parents should make sure children stay out of chat rooms.
It is easy to find out where your child is going on the Internet. Simply click on the history button on the Internet browser and a list of viewed sites will pop up.
"I think about 80% of teens 13-17 have cell phones now. It's a new phenomenon," said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.
Attorney General Hood warns children should only be testing or talking to people they know.
"Don't let them delete their messages. If they delete their messages, take their phone away. You can see who they are communicating with from the phone company," said Hood.
Most cell phones now come with cameras, so talk to your kids about sending and receiving inappropriate images.
"You're keeping them safe, and I don't believe it is an invasion of privacy at all. I think it is a protection of your child's privacy," said Jennifer Taylor.
For more information on how to protect your child go to www.agjimhood.com and click on "A Parent's Plan To Child Safety."
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