Staying safe online

USAF photo: Senior Airman James Bell Sandy Loomis, Curry County Deputy sheriff, briefs children at the Cannon Air Force Base Youth Center on Nov. 23. Children raised their hand in the air if they had a social media website account to bring up cyber threats.

Liliana Castillo

The Curry County Sheriff’s Office and Cannon Air Force Base Family Advocacy teamed up last week and presented families of Cannon ways to keep their children safe online.

Deputy Sheriff Sandy Loomis presented parents and youth tips on how be safe while surfing the Internet in two separate workshops geared specifically toward each group.

Loomis is part of a task force under the district attorney’s office called the Internet Crimes Against Children unit which educates people about the dangers of cyberspace for children and also takes action against those that are perpetrating that danger.

ICAC investigators have been presenting a parent’s guide to Internet safety for children, covering topics such as “sexting”, cyber bullying, Chatroulette, social networking such as MySpace, Facebook, Craig’s List, and general Internet safety and precautions, for the past two years. Loomis said they have reached about 1,000 people countywide.

Loomis said one of the biggest issues in Internet safety is that parents don’t know what their children are looking at while on the Internet.

“For parents, it’s about being aware of the danger,” he said.

Loomis said parents should keep computers in a public place at home, know their children’s passwords and know who their children’s friends are on social networking sites.

Loomis also talked to parents about cyber bullying, sexting and Internet crimes against children. In the last two years since the ICAC task force was assembled, there have been at least 30 adults who have traveled into Curry County who claimed to be 13 or 11 years old in a chatroom online.

For youth, Loomis talked to them about having a cell phone and what responsibilities come with it. He said with youth, it’s about interacting with them and being open about how they use the Internet and technology.

Family Advocacy Outreach Manager Tyleen Caffrey said her office’s main job is prevention. She said she enjoys having a professional come in and talk to people about their topic.

“Air Force kids are more susceptible with moving often and trying to network and keep in touch with friends back home,” Caffrey said.