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Internet safety for kids: the cell phone never sleeps

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND  —  With the increasing sophistication and availability of technology comes increasing opportunities for sexual predators to target children.

One such example is a 45-year-old high school teacher in Glenwood City arrested April 5 for allegedly trading sexually explicit photos and messages with a sophomore girl who attends high school in Missouri.

Internet safety was one of the topics at a presentation on school safety at Elk Mound High School April 5.

 Who remembers when the only phone in the house was mounted on the wall, wondered Paul Weber, Elk Mound High School principal.

A certain number of hands went up among the audience of about 40 people.

The phones students use today are not so much telephones as they are hand-held computers that happen to make telephone calls.

And the cell phones are always changing, Weber said.

Parents should ask their students to allow them to take a look at their phones, he said.

Parents also should set a time at night when the cell phone must be shut off. Students submit homework to their teachers in Elk Mound through the Internet, and by the timestamp on some of the submissions, kids are doing homework at 3 a.m. Students may also be exchanging messages with their friends or other people at night, Weber said.

Parents may also want to keep their child’s cell phone in their possession overnight, he said.

Much of the messaging that occurs takes place at night, Weber said.

The sophomore girl in Missouri told investigators many of the messages allegedly exchanged with the 45-year-old teacher were exchanged at night, according to the criminal complaint filed in St. Croix County.

Parents also should look at the message history on their child’s computer or cell phone, Weber said.

And parents should know about the applications their children have downloaded to their phones, he said.

One app, called Whisper, allows people to post messages anonymously, Weber said.

The sophomore girl in Missouri told investigators she used Whisper as well as Snapchat to exchange messages with the Glenwood City teacher.

“All parents should have a good idea of what their kids are doing on the Internet,” Weber said.

“The phone never sleeps,” he noted.