In a fluid electronic landscape of shrinking privacy and spectral offenders, the Internet can be a hazardous landscape for children and other newbie users. In addition to a rash of recent studies published on technology's influence on mental health and self-esteem, concern for user safety, especially children, has also been growing.
Our obsession with social media has researchers asking what the sociological impact of a displaced online persona might look like in the coming years. The Atlantic's recent article "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" points out that self control, moderation and awareness are key ways to combat the negative effects of Internet socializing.
Similarly, in Glen Klinkhart's new book, "A Cybercop's Guide to Internet Child Safety," he argues that 21st-century parents must deliver a new kind of guardianship: Internet protection. Klinkhart, a detective who from the Anchorage Police Department on Friday after 17 years, says that responsible adults can reduce the harmful prospects of an online life, particularly for children and teens.
Admittedly, Facebook can be addictive, with the most addictive aspect being the unchecked persona one can create in the virtual world. This type of "make-believe" is what can get kids in trouble online, both as victims and perpetrators.
Parents seldom think their children are capable of becoming antagonists or bullies. But sometimes that's just the problem. Granted anonymity online, adolescents can become malevolent perpetrators hiding behind the computer. According to the National Crime Prevention Center, over 40 percent of U.S. teenagers with Internet access have reported being the victim of online bullying in the past year. On top of that, there appears to be a direct correlation between bullying and the amount of time a children and teens spends on the Internet; excessive activity predictably raises the likelihood.
Klinkhart's thorough manual covers all the online threats in plain language. The book provides a wealth of appropriate tips to safeguard against the sinister side of the web, including advice and information on bullying, harassment, stalking, spotting chat room red flags and simple protective measures parents can use to keep their young ones out of trouble. In short, "Cybercop" aims to help the average parent or guardian keep children safe -- a seemingly simple, but in fact intimidatingly difficult, task.
"The Cybercop's Guide to Internet Child Safety" is available through Amazon in both the traditional paper style, as well as the 21st-century e-variety.
Klinkhart's name may be familiar to those who follow the Anchorage crime scene, but his most famous case did not include the element of an online threat.
However, it did serve to sharpen his already-acute drive to protect the vulnerable and the isolated. The murder of 21-year-old Bethany Correira, which looms as one of the most unsettling Anchorage murders in recent memory, was a case that impacted Klinkhart's career and his life.
In 2003, Talkeetna born-and-raised Correira moved to Anchorage. After only four days in the city and living in Bootlegger's Cove, she went missing. Klinkhart led the APD team that helped find and convict her killer, Michael Lawson, and his accomplice-brother Randy. Michael Lawson is serving a 99-year jail sentence, Randy Lawson committed suicide before the trial.
The tragic death of a young person is never easy, but in Klinkhart's case, it also brought back memories. When Klinkhart was 16 years old, his sister, Dawn, was sexually assaulted and strangled. Correira's case added to his objective to help others through public speaking, writing and information security. His personal story and the exhaustive search to bring justice for Correira resulted in an NBC "Dateline" special.
Klinkhart's next book will be a look at the personal loss of his sister Dawn, cracking the arduous Correira case and how these two young lives changed his own.
Klinkhart owns and operates the security consulting firm Digital Securus, providing clients with information security and electronic forensic services. He continues to live in Anchorage.
Contact Katie Medred at firstname.lastname@example.org