I ran across this article today and just had to share it. This is a story every parent of teenagers should read. The Internet offers the kind of access to information I never dreamed of as a child. Internet research has become 4th and 5th grade requirement in my local schools. But there is another side of the Internet that parents need to know about. Learn how to monitor your children’s activities on the Internet. Software packages will limit their access and will save their activities for you to review at your leisure. Get involved. Make sure your child is safe. [NY Times]
Weeks before, Justin had hooked up a Web camera to his computer, hoping to use it to meet other teenagers online. Instead, he heard only from men who chatted with him by instant message as they watched his image on the Internet. To Justin, they seemed just like friends, ready with compliments and always offering gifts. Now, on an afternoon in 2000, one member of his audience sent a proposal: he would pay Justin $50 to sit bare-chested in front of his Webcam for three minutes. The man explained that Justin could receive the money instantly and helped him open an account on PayPal.com, an online payment system. “I figured, I took off my shirt at the pool for nothing,” he said recently. “So, I was kind of like, what’s the difference?” Justin removed his T-shirt. The men watching him oozed compliments. So began the secret life of a teenager who was lured into selling images of his body on the Internet over the course of five years. From the seduction that began that day, this soccer-playing honor roll student was drawn into performing in front of the Webcam – undressing, showering, masturbating and even having sex – for an audience of more than 1,500 people who paid him, over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars.