Students get class on Internet safety

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 31, 2002

Lincoln County fifth and sixth graders got some useful tipsabout the Internet during a program Wednesday to help studentslearn how to avoid being a victim of a cyber crime.

“With the computer age upon us, we need to teach the kids what’sout there as early as possible so they can avoid it,” said JasonCase, director of the Lincoln County School Districtprevention/intervention program, which teamed with SouthwestMississippi Children’s Advocacy Center to bring the Cyber Crimeprogram to the students.

Jean Smith Vaughan, special assistant Attorney General, warnedstudents that people can use the Internet to commit a crime, likestealing other people’s personal information, which is the mostcommon cyber crime.

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“You need to be very careful on the Internet,” Vaughan told WestLincoln students.

Many of the elementary students were quite aware of the Internetand what it offered, with most using the computer on a regularbasis at school and home.

About half of the fifth and sixth graders in Lincoln County usethe Internet to communicate with their friends through chat rooms,which can be dangerous, Vaughan warned.

“It’s a wonderful way to talk to your friends, but it’simportant to know who you are talking to. People may be justwatching what you say in a chat room, and they don’t have your bestinterest in mind,” Vaughan pointed out during the program.

She told students they should never put their address, age,phone number, parents’ names or personal information — such aswhere they plan on going later or if their parents are home — onthe Internet because of how easily people can find it.

“Don’t send a picture of yourself over the Internet to someoneyou don’t know,” she told students.

Vaughan also warned students of the dangers of meeting peopleover the Internet, mentioning how a 16-year-old Texas boy showed upat in Madison County a few months ago to surprise a 17-year-oldstudent he had met on the Internet.

Law enforcement officers were called to the school and the boywas sent back to Texas.

E-mails can be another danger of the Internet, with virusesbeing sent, possibly destroying all files in a computer, like therecent “Look at the pictures of my party” virus.

“Don’t open the e-mails that you don’t recognize, just save itto a disk and get someone to help you,” said Vaughan. “If you opena virus, it will start melting your files.”

Some people also may make rude comments or threats on theInternet, which students should report immediately, she said.