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Internet safety is elementary

December 14, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Learning to be safe while using the Internet is being taught to the youngest school members.

Widmyer Elementary School students in kindergarten through second grade got some Internet safety tips last Thursday from Deputy Tony Link of the Morgan County Sheriff's Department.

School Principal Dan Reynolds said students as young kindergarten age are learning how to type, and they need to learn there are good and bad things on the Internet.

"Kids need to recognize what's not good," he said.

Link said teaching children at a young age is the way to combat the problem, and educating parents is also important.

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Link said the program is offered through the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and he is working with the Morgan County Partnership, which coordinated the event.

The partnership consists of local organizations working together to make Morgan County a safe community, said Project Director Susan Caperton.

Using a NetSmartz video, the interactive safety program with animated figures like "Clicky" is geared to educate younger children. Clicky tells the audience the importance of being careful online because there are "mean and nasty characters out there."

Don't open e-mails from people you don't know, Clicky said, and "tell an adult I trust if something makes me feel scared, uncomfortable or confused."

The youngsters were told never to give out personal information. If asked to do so, they were told the correct way to respond is to "ask my parents or guardian before sharing my personal information."

"This was fun," Link said.

The kids were responsive and enjoyed answering the questions about what they learned about staying safe on the Internet.

The students took home letters to their parents notifying them that the safety program was taught so reinforcement can be given at home through the NetSmartz Web site (www.netsmartz.org), Link said.

He said the Internet safety programs will be taught in the county's intermediate, middle and high schools. Link will teach a program for parents at Greenwood Elementary School in January.

Link wants a parents' program to be available in all the county's schools, and the partnership will be working toward that goal, Caperton said.

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