GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Authorities say Internet crimes against children are on the rise and Monday the Colorado Attorney General's Office launched a new, free tool to help parents fight back.
Facebook, Twitter, AIM, MySpace... parents say it's enough to leave them scratching their heads.
"These kids are learning to be on the computer from the time they're three and up," says Cathy Story, Grand Junction mom and coordinator for Hilltop's Child and Family Center. "And they're much more savvy than a lot of us."
But authorities say those sites are enough for child predators to carry out crimes. "One anecdote [Attorney General John Suthers] likes to share is that he has yet to find an investigator who went online posing as a youth and was not at some point solicited," says Mike Saccone, communications director for the Colorado Attorney General's Office.
When it comes to preventing Internet crimes against children, authorities and experts agress parents play the biggest role. "There's so many things that they can have access to that you don't have control over if you're not paying attention," says Story.
But what is that role? That's a question an interactive program launched Monday called "Wired With Wisdom" hopes to answer.
"One thing we really like about this program is that it's up-to-date," says Saccone. "It has the latest information about the latest technological trends."
The program uses games, pictures, text, and sound to break down topics like chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking sites, and email, then address the dangers of each.
"I think all adults should be helpful to kids and let them understand how the Internet works," says Donna Miller, a librarian and teacher at West Middle School.
Miller says despite the dangers children face, the Internet is still a great tool. She hopes parents use a program like "Wired for Wisdom" to educate, not all out restrict their children's access to the Internet.
"What we shoud do is help them be responsible and knowledgeable about their use of this technology," says Miller. "I think it's only going to get more pervasive and we can't bury our heads in the sand."
To download your free copy of "Wired With Wisdom" click on the link below. The password for parents is "wisdom."
Users will be asked for their email addresses and mailing addresses before they can download the program. The Colorado Attorney General's Office says that's only to verify that you live in Colorado, and your information will not be given out.