Is the internet hazardous to your child’s health?

Who do you love more than your 14 year-old daughter? Who is more important to you than her?

All her life you’ve been spoiling her rotten. When she was 12, you bought her one of those fancy phones so that she can reach you in the event of an emergency. Tell the truth — other than to give her a ride, how many times has she called you? She gave you loads of hugs and kisses when you bought her an iPad for her 13th birthday. “Please be careful with it sweetheart,” you said. “It’s expensive.”

The recent beautiful cake was inscribed with her name and a large “14” on it. We sang “Happy Birthday to You” and the princess, the love of your life, became the proud owner of a personal computer.

With all of this modern technology around — she is reaching the world via telephone, e-mail, and texting. But who is she communicating with? Her friends, right? Are you sure?

The McAfee Corporation is one of the more popular online security software manufacturers. Due to increased use of the internet by teenagers, the company introduced the McAfee Family Protection software last year, a program designed for parents to keep track of their children and the many websites they are interested in.

Before the world had all this modern technology it was, “Where did you go?”


“What did you do?”


But today it is, “Who were you speaking to?”


“What do you mean ‘nobody?’ You were talking on your cell for almost an hour.”

“My friends.”

That, dear daddy, is the best you may get.

The McAfee people did a study earlier this year and claim to have come up with some very interesting results. Some of those findings are more than merely curious. They are very frightening.

According to the recently released report 70 percent of teens hide their online behavior from their parents. That’s up from 45 percent less than three years ago. Thirty-two percent go online to watch pornography. Sixteen percent admit to using their phones to cheat on tests at school. But here’s the stat that frightens me the most. Twelve percent of teens surveyed have gotten together with a person he or she met on the internet. That might be OK if your 14 year-old daughter met a 15 year-old boy who attends the same school. Hey — we were all young once. It’s cool to have a bright, good looking kid walk her home at 3 pm and maybe drop by for a Redbox flick and some popcorn.

Wait a second. What if the 15 year-old youngster is not who he says he is? What if he’s 21 or 32 or just an older, experienced pervert who gets his kicks hiding his real age and identity on his computer? This can’t happen to your family — right?

How does a pedophile catch your extremely smart teenage daughter with her guard down? If you are really interested you might want to hop on over to the nearest library, Redbox, or Blockbuster and grab a copy of “Trust”, a very interesting and educational flick that was in the theatres two years ago.

In it the life of Annie, a 14 year-old young adult, is changed by a man she met on the internet. Katherine Keener and Clive Owen are believable and brilliant as her parents. I will not give away the ending of this 106 minute movie but I assure you, it is not what you think. Even though it’s rated R for disturbing material involving the rape of a teen, language, sexual content and some violence, I would not hide it from my daughter.

In fact, I probably would encourage her to see it.

I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net telling you that “Trust” is realistic fiction. It is not a true story, but it could be.

Read Stan Gershbein's column every Monday on BrooklynDaily.com.