Share This Page

Pennsylvania AG at Sewickley event: Vigilance crucial with teens on social media

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 1:06 p.m.

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane said she was shocked to read what her two sons were privately messaging after requesting passwords to their accounts.

“The text messages were ridiculous,” Kane told a handful of parents at a social media forum on Friday in the Quaker Valley Middle School auditorium. “It was back and forth. There was no decency.”

Kane took the phones away from her 13- and 11-year-old for a month and established household privacy and password rules for social media. Every now and again, she checks to make sure their passwords haven't changed, and cautions other parents to remain vigilant too.

“It can happen anywhere,” Kane said. “Don't make the mistake I made. Don't think it's not going to be your son or your daughter.”

The Social Media Awareness forum, organized by state Sen. Matt Smith, (D-Mt. Lebanon), focused on cyber safety, informing parents of the latest social media platforms and tips to monitor online activity. The discussion included panelists Anthony Marmo, deputy attorney general; Sewickley police Sgt. Dave Mazza; and Danielle Schultz, Quaker Valley Middle School counselor.

Smith said the forum was important to discuss the steps parents can take to protect their children.

“I am the parent of three small children — 6, 4 and 2. They're on iPhones; they're on iPads. They know how to work a lot of the equipment even better than my wife and I do in certain occasions.”

Kane said her office has cross-trained agents and invested in software that gets into the programs child predators are using. She said the unit identified 2,800 child predators living in Pennsylvania, many of whom are considered “travelers” who contact children online and arrange to meet them somewhere.

Philip Little, education and outreach specialist with the Attorney General's office, guided parents through the five most popular social sites and urged them to learn the passwords to their children's accounts.

“If something were to happen to your child, and your child would go missing, in law enforcement we have to go through the correct legal channels. It may take at least 48 hours or longer for us to gain access,” Little said.

Technology is changing almost daily, and Kane said it's frightening what can happen to children.

“Education is the cornerstone of making sure crime doesn't happen,” Kane said.

Larissa Dudkiewicz is a contributing writing for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.