Psychologist urges parents to protect kids from web predators - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Psychologist urges parents to protect children from online predators

Lee Reynolds, child analyst and psychologist Lee Reynolds, child analyst and psychologist
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The FBI estimates more than half a million pedophiles are online every day. The virtual world makes it alarmingly easy for adults pretending to be teens to make contact with children.

"I am very scared for kids," said Lee Reynolds, child analyst and psychologist who used to teach at Harvard. "I am scared because we seem to downplay the importance of protecting our kids with the internet. It's like all doors are open".

Reynolds says he sees child victims in his practice every week that are the victims of online child predators.

"The impact is the kid felt they were safe and all right, and suddenly they are in way over their head," said Reynolds. "That can cause a lot of difficulties. For example, kids talk to their friends to try and work this out, but their friends don't know how to handle it and many kids assume because they can surf the internet, they can also handle these complex situations, but they will go and meet someone. It is very much a problem."

On Monday, police arrested Jesse Sikes, 23, for trying to meet with a 12-year-old child in person for sex after soliciting her on Facebook. Reynolds says a child that young is unable to handle these kinds of situations on their own.

"I worry we are exposing kids to way more than their brain can process. For example, they need to be 12 years old to understand abstract reasoning, but we are showing them very complex images and social media networks that are much more difficult for them to process," said Reynolds.

Reynolds says parents shouldn't be afraid to spy on their kids online. He says do whatever it takes to protect them from becoming a victim.

Reynolds suggests using security software, like Net Nanny, that protects children from certain sites and can set layers of filters so parents can decide how much screening they want for their child.

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