1 In 5 kids solicited for sex online; Only 25% of parents know

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Parents warned to keep kids safe while online

PHOENIX - Parents are being warned to keep children safe on the information super-highway due to internet predators, online pharmacies and virtual-bullying.

The statistics are alarming. One out of every five children is solicited for sex online but only 25% of parents ever hears about it.

According to cyber investigators, the average child predator is a white male between the age of 25 to 45, middle to upper income. He maintains a professional job, sometimes in a career involving children, and uses the computer to reach his victims because of its perceived anonymity and access. That means that, as parents, we have to be proactive and involved in what our kids are doing online, whether we want them using them or not.

Sites like Myspace and Facebook are the methods our children are using to communicate. John Iannarelli, a supervisory special agent with the FBI in Phoenix, says, "The reality is predators know where to look for children. They're opening Myspace, getting on AOL, they're chatting. They're even getting on Play Station 3 and talking through internet and playing games with your children."

Iannarelli was the head speaker at Tuesday's conference where the FBI has paired up with the "Not my Kid Organization." Brad Barrett, executive director of the organization, advises to, " Empower parents to get some skills/strategies."

Julie Horne's two kids want to start using Myspace. She says, " And I just have had to let them know. I don't know enough about itj ust yet." She attended the conference to gain that expertise. One of the first things she learned was to keep your computer in a central area at home and to become familiar with your child's profile.

Also, tell your kids not to post any inappropriate photos because once they are out there, they are out there forever. Also advised is to make sure your kids do not give out any personal information and they should keep their profile "private."

Parents should make sure they know their child's password. Horne explains, "I'm here to learn, educate my kids...help keep them safe."

A big key is if somebody contacts your child who they do not know to inform you as a parent. Horne admits, "When I was young I was told, 'Don't talk to strangers'. Today parents aren't telling their kids that about the internet and everybody on the internet is a stranger."

As Iannarelli likes to put it, trust your kids but verify what they are doing. Parental controls and spyware are great options that also keep you in the know with updates on what kind of sites your child has visited.

To see a list of tips the FBI says your children should keep in mind when they are surfing the web, .