Teen Bloggers: Internet Safety - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Teen Bloggers: Internet Safety

Chris Kretzschmar is only 13. But he prides himself on his computer skills.

"I love hooking them up, setting them up--anything with computers," he said.

That includes having a blog. Chris is one of an estimated 34 million teen bloggers. Many turn to the web to write, rant, and make friends.

"Just so they can get things off their chests, and basically have like an on-line diary or journal," Chris said.

Blogspot, Xanga, and Myspace are just a few of the most popular sites for teen bloggers. The latter lists thousands of subscribers in the Memphis area alone. Many of them post photos and personal information, including where they go to school, work, and live.

Sgt. Len Edwards heads up the Commission on Missing and Exploited Children. He says online predators use information on blogs to find out more about children.

"Predators look at that information to find cracks in the facade of children," he said. "You know, kids at one time were communicating with two Dixie cups and a string in their ear."

Now kids heading on-line, sometimes sitting for hours and communicating with other teens, and potentially online predators.

"With every good new technology that comes into play, a nightmare follows it," Edwards said.

Case after case exists of alleged predators who have sought their prey on-line.

Recently, a Florida man was arrested for kidnapping a girl he met on the Internet.

In another case, a teen in the mid-south was sent a plane ticket to England by an on-line pal who turned out to be a suspected predator.

Edwards says parents are the first line of defense.

"It doesn't just happen all at once. It usually starts with just a hello, what's your name," he said. "A child coming home from school, and going behind a closed door, is a dangerous, dangerous place."

That's why Chris Kretzschmar usually blogs from a public library computer. He says he's already been warned.

"Basically, not to give out any information like your name, address, anything," he said.

But as long as others make those mistakes by continuing to blog haphazardly, the problem of on-line predators may only get worse.

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