Warning To Parents: As Of July, MySpace Hosting 29,000 Websites For Known Sex Offenders
With school back in session, thousands of kids will be surfing the Internet to conduct research, complete homework assignments, and connect with their new schoolmates.
While chatting online with their friends about the latest school gossip or teenage crush seems innocent enough, the fact of the matter is that the Internet can expose a child to inappropriate material and unscrupulous individuals who are looking for any opportunity to exploit innocent children.
The Statistics of Online Abuse Towards Children Are Alarming
According to a survey conducted by NetAlert, nearly one child in every five has been approached online by a stranger, and forty-five percent (45%) have been exposed to material that is pornographic, sexually explicit, violent, racist, or that encourages them to participate in dangerous or illegal activities.
One of the Biggest Threats To Children are Social Networking Sites Like MySpace.com
A few months ago, North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper reported that over 29,000 registered sex offenders are using MySpace.com to look for underage victims based on the web site’s own estimates. That number was four times greater than the company’s previous reports. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal estimated in May that at least 5,000 sex offenders were registered for MySpace using false identities. Blumenthal and Cooper have been the most active attorney generals in linking MySpace and sexual predation.
Horrifying True Stories Prove This is Not an Urban Legend
What’s even more alarming are the true-life horror stories of missing or victimized kids who met their predator online.
In New Jersey, Majalie Cajuste is grieving the murder of her 14-year old daughter Judy who met a man in his 20s through MySpace.com.
In California, friends are mourning 15-year-old Kayla Reed who was active on MySpace until the day she was found murdered.
The Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported more than 2,600 incidents last year of adults attempting to entice children. That’s why North Carolina’s Attorney General is proposing stronger legislation to ban registered sex offenders from using social networking sites and strengthening other anti-child pornography and criminal penalties for Internet solicitation of minors and children for sex.
Last year, North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation arrested a police officer for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl he lured using MySpace, Cooper’s office said.
But MySpace Isn’t The Only Threat
According to Highlights of the Youth Internet Safety Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, one in five children received unwanted sexual solicitations online. There are a growing number of pedophiles using the Internet to gain a child’s confidence and arrange face-to-face meetings.
These cyber criminals trap children by using spam e-mails, online messaging, children’s chat rooms, and misleading domain names. If your child is using the Internet, you must take measures to educate and protect them from these dangers.
As part of our back-to-school newsletter edition, I’ve outlined 3 things you should be doing now to keep your kids safe online.
Three Things You Can Do Right Now To Help Protect Your Children Online
1. Install web and e-mail filtering software to prevent your children from viewing inappropriate material. We recommend using http://www.bsafeonline.com/. Not only will this prevent your children from visiting inappropriate web sites, but it will also stop inappropriate spam.
2. Talk to your kids about online safety and proper Internet usage. Set limits and guidelines about when they can go online, what they can do, and how long they are allowed to be online. Explain why it is dangerous for them to “chat” with strangers online or download suspicious looking files.
3. Give your children specific online guidelines or rules to follow when using the Internet. It’s not enough to warn them about potential risks; pedophiles know how to cloak their identity and gain a child’s confidence to arrange face-to-face meetings
Require Your Kids To Know And Follow These Simple Online Rules
I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work addresses, or our e-mail address to anyone online.
I will tell my parents right away if I see a web site, e-mail, or message that makes me feel uncomfortable.
I will never send my picture to anyone online or upload my picture to any web site without my parent’s knowledge and permission.
I will never agree to meet someone face-to-face whom I met online without my parents’ knowledge and permission.
I will not respond to any messages that are mean or that make me feel uncomfortable in any way. If I get a message like that, I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the online service.
I will never give my parents’ financial information to anyone, especially their credit card information, bank account information, or social security number.
If you want more information on how to keep your children safe online or to report illegal, violent, or explicit acts towards children, go to http://www.cybertipline.com/
This site is run by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and is a great resource for parents, teachers, and guardians.
Some of the goals that can be achieved with your website include:
1. Far Cheaper and More Flexible Than Print Advertising:
Print advertising is valuable and becomes even more valuable when you add your website. An 8 1/2″ x 11″ flyer can become everything you want customers to know about you when they go to your website.
2. Market Expansion:
Customers can potentially come from all over the world.
3. Another Revenue Source:
Sell to a whole new client base.
Send customers and clients to your website for information any time, day or night!
5. Offer Convenience:
Make it easy to find information on your site. A potential customer can access your information from the comfort and privacy of thier home.
6. Add Value and Satisfaction:
Your website can add value by offering tips, answers to frequently asked questions, advice and general interest content. This will prompt them to see you as an expert and recommend you to thier family and friends.
7. Systemize Sales:
Get all the information that you need to make a sale by having the customer fill out a form requiring all the necessary information.
8. Improve credibility:
Stress the benefits of buying your products or using your services and provide testimonials by satisfied customers.
9. Promote your Brick and Mortar Presence:
Directions, hours of operation and products carried are pieces of information that customers want to find out quickly.
10. Growth Opportunity:
Many companies use thier website to attract investors.
11. Customer Feedback:
Customers can quickly and easily give feedback on your product and/or marketing.
12. Excellent Market Research Source:
Use direct mail marketing to direct potential customers to a specific web page to test a marketing idea. If it performs well, use it for all your clients. If not, you have the opportunity to adjust the piece or go in another direction without spending your whole marketing budget.
Many of our websites utilized Urchin statistical report that were available with our previous hosting company. Since the move this Spring to new hosts, we are in the process of adding stats and mail icons to the bottom of all our websites for the convenience of our web clients.
When accessed, the icon brings you to your webmail log in and to the free Webalizer stats reports that are available with the new hosting services.
We’ve found that the Webalizer statistical reports are basic and lack the robust functionality that Urchin had. But we have good news! Urchin was acquired by Google in 2005 and they are offering it as a free service.
With this report, you can get summaries of traffic, everything you want to know about how visitors found you and how they interact with your site.
Other good news; Google Analytics tracks all of your online campaigns from emails to keywords, regardless of the seach engine or referral source.
You’ll need to set up a Google account (it’s free) and then send us the code that you generate. Or, send us your account’s username and password and we’ll do all the configuration and setup for $45. We’ll install the code on all your website’s main pages so you can get a comprehensive look at your sites performance.
Email us at WebDesign@GoAmerican.com for more information today.
If your website is 4, 5 or more years old, you’re probably due for a re-design. Here are 10 practical tips to help you get started. Give us a call and ask about our website re-design special.
1. A Look and feel that reflects your Business
Your website is increasingly the first impression that your company makes. Do customers know that they found the right site? Make it an extension of your office, shop or restaurant.
2. Clear Navigation
Make sure your site skillfully shows visitors where they are, where they can go and how to get there.
3. Visual Hierarchy
Balance key elements including font size, style and page layout to drive visitors directly to what they are looking for.
4. Concise, Easy To Scan Text
Break down information into bite-size chunks. Summarize paragraph content in the first sentence and use subheadings and bullet points when possible. People scan text to find the information they want to read.
5. Your Message-What makes you different!
Your site is a 24 hour stand-in for your sales team, customer service staff and PR department. So sell your uniqueness! Focus on your customer’s needs, not yours.
6. Search Engine Visibility
Use your key words in headers, page titles and page address.
7. Consistent Design
To aid in easy navigation, a well designed website needs to have a similar layout, style and navigation elements throughout.
8. Additonal Domain Names
Domain names where the words are seperated by dashes (American-Computer-Technologies.com) may also help you to be found in the search engines. No need for an additional site-we just point the new domain to the current site.
9. Communication and Data Collection
Add forms to your contact pages to gather information for marketing to your visitor at a later time-with their permission, of course) Your visitors’ email addresses are like gold!
10. Fresh, Relevant Content
Search engines and visitors both like freshly updated sites and will come back more often when the content in changed on a regular basis.