Teen girls take part in panel discussion on online safety - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Teen girls take part in panel discussion on online safety

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A panel discussion was held Sunday aimed at opening teens' eyes to the dangers lurking online.

It's almost impossible to find a teen these days that doesn't have a smartphone. And everything is so easy. Sending an email, a picture, chatting with friends. But that means it's also easier to get in trouble, or become a victim. 

The most recent San Diego scandal involved sexting at several area high schools. Police say 30 students were being investigated for spreading explicit pictures. 

Instances of cyber crimes involving teens is on the rise and who better to spread the word about safety on social media than the long time host of America's Most Wanted, John Walsh. 

"The Internet, yes it is the wonderful info super highway, but it has now become the private hunting ground for all kinds of criminals and all kinds of people who exploit people," Walsh said. 

Sunday, at the Girls World Expo on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, he preached about the perils of the Internet and led a discussion panel of high schoolers, including Cassandra Blessing.

She thinks kids her age think they're invincible, especially online. 

"Like sexting for example, if I send this picture it won't get out that won't happen to me. That happens to other people. It's a lot of thinking that teenagers are the exception," Blessing said. 

Walsh says Internet use is doubling every year and kids need to know that online, things aren't always what they seem. 

"You may think you know exactly who you're talking to. That it's a handsome 13-year-old boy or it's a wonderful friend of yours...it can be a 20-year-old creep who wants to hunt you down because you gave them too much info. Or a 55-year-old guy who wants to kill you after he finds you at the mall," he said.

Walsh added that parents can play a big part in safety by limiting their kids time online and setting parental controls. He says it's very important that parents enforce their rules under their roof. 

"Your child isn't your best friend, and their privacy isn't the most important thing, the most important thing is to make sure you know what they're doing. Parent up," he said. 

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