RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - How much do you know about what's on your home computer? Can you see everything your teenager might have access to? Do you know everyone she may be chatting with?
If your answers are no, technology may be able to help you better protect your children.
Let's face it, the younger you are, the more computer savvy you're likely to be. Now a new device called the 'porn detection stick' is helping parents and businesses find hidden inappropriate images.
"We have an agreement that he's only supposed to visit certain sites," said parent Keith Gray.
Gray has a 13-year-old son at home and like many teenagers, his boy is a whiz on the family computer. And despite their agreement, Keith wants to know what's online when he surfs the net.
"When he's on the Internet, it's an open doorway to him and if I'm not there and he's viewing materials, then I want to make sure that I can look at an archived record of it and make sure that everything he's seeing is appropriate," Gray said.
And that's where the porn detection stick might be helpful.
Private investigator Nicole Bocra uses the technology developed by computer forensics companies that's now available to average consumers.
"The porn detection stick will allow you to quickly identify any images and extract them off the computer," Bocra said.
So whether it's something left on a used computer you bought. Or something unknowingly downloaded or racy images someone deliberately put on your PC, a porn stick should find it.
"It uses different algorithms to identify flesh tone, to identify skin detection," she said.
And it doesn't discriminate. The program will find images of a baby, innocently bundled up.
Or the girls posing on the beach.
Selma Hayek's head shot that shows a little more than just her face or something more illicit.
And aside from the risk of a computer virus, children are being exposed at an alarming rate.
Bocra says 1,500 children were interviewed for a study and 25% said they had been exposed to sexual images... 20% had received sexual advances online.
The chat stick might address concerns about your kids being contacted on Yahoo or MSN messengers.
"I think the chat stick will enable a parent to monitor what's going on with their kids and monitor who they're talking to without the children really being aware of it," Bocra said.
In about a minute, the chat stick can download all the chats cached on a computer. Bocra show us an example of a conversation a sexual predator might have with a child.
It starts with an innocent question about a dog.
From a chat:
"Wow, I love dogs. Do you have a dog?
Yes, I have a brown dog. His name is Coco.
Do you walk him everyday?
Yes, everyday when I get home from school.
You're such a good girl. Does anyone walk him with you?
No, just me."
One in three kids who goes online or enters a chat room is introduced to a pedophile. Accessing possible conversations and knowing the language to look for can really empower a parent.
Like Keith Gray: "The more tools as a parent that I have to protect my child from predators, from inappropriate materials being sent to him knowingly or unknowingly, I'm all for it," Gray said.
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