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Presentation teaches Internet safety to parents, kids

The online world is an ever-changing place and, just like in the real world, parents should recognize that in addition to being a source of recreation and education, the Internet can also pose a danger to kids.

That's why the Town of Malta will be hosting the State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) for two September presentations aimed at educating kids and parents on ways to use the Internet safely.

There will be a presentation for parents Tuesday, Sept. 9, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and a presentation for middle and high schoolers Wednesday, Sept. 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Both presentations will be held in the David R. Meager Community Center and are free of charge, though preregistration with the town's Parks and Recreation Department is encouraged. Call 899-4411 for information.

According to Ken Buniak, program manager for DCJS' Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse, the presentations are all about providing information, not using scare tactics.

The philosophy here is to give people food for thought and let them choose their path and their strategy, said Buniak. "Both of [the programs] instill a sense of caution, not a sense of fear."

The visual, PowerPoint-based presentations cover topics like social networking sites, instant messaging guidelines, cyber bullying and online pornography. They are also committed to furthering basic computer knowledge for both kids and parents, as the Internet is an ever-changing place. It can now be accessed via cell phone, and kids are instant messaging while on the go with increasing frequency.

One developing aspect of the online world that concerns the DCJS is the increasingly social nature of the Internet, where it is now possible to communicate with more people in more ways than ever. Though it is possible to create an entire network of online acquaintances, Buniak cautioned that online friends shouldn't be considered real-life buddies.

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