DENVER, June 11, 2007 - Wireless devices are extremely popular among young people, and the proliferation of technology creates new potential risks as well as new opportunities. To help address this, Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), now offers advice from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(R) (NCMEC) about the safer and smarter use of wireless technology at the Qwest Web site IncredibleInternet.com. The site is a national hub for online safety topics, complete with expert advice and resources for families, educators, and law enforcement.
Research firm iGR's latest study reports that the age for first-time cell phone users is dropping. Today, 50 to 70 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds - along with a significant number of 5- to 9-year-olds - have their own cell phones. According to the Boston-based research firm, Yankee Group, the number of American "tweens" armed with cell phones is expected to grow 60 percent by 2010, to 10.5 million
"At NCMEC, it's our priority to educate families about child safety. With more children using wireless technology as their means of communication, it's important that parents and guardians understand the benefits and potential risks associated with their children's wireless device use," said Ernie Allen, NCMEC president and CEO. "We're pleased to work with Qwest to help families learn how to keep their children safer using wireless devices."
"Through Qwest's work with local online safety coalitions, we identified significant demand for wireless safety information and advice," said Qwest executive vice president of mass markets Paula Kruger, who over sees Qwest's online safety efforts. "We are pleased to serve this need with NCMEC's new, free content for families on the Incredible Internet Web site."
Qwest is a steward of technology, committed to educating families about safer and smarter use of the Internet. Since 2005, Qwest has partnered with NCMEC to raise awareness of online safety issues and to proactively help combat online exploitation of youth by increasing parent and guardian understanding and education.
Qwest convenes coalition meetings with experts in law enforcement and education to help coordinate community awareness efforts. These experts also serve as professional advisers for IncredibleInternet.com, and make use of the coalition's online toolkit to supplement their own outreach activities.
The following tips from NCMEC and more helpful information is also available at IncredibleInternet.com.
Tips for Parents and Guardians
- Set appropriate ground rules for your children's use of wireless devices.
- Monitor the wireless bill to keep track of the amount of time your children spend talking and sending messages and with whom.
- Pay special attention to numbers or messages from people you do not recognize or have not approved.
- Teach your children to tell you if anyone sends them a threatening or frightening message.
- If your children are being stalked, harassed, or threatened in any way, report the incident to your service provider and local law-enforcement agency.
- If the material is lewd, obscene, or illegal also report it to www.cybertipline.com or 1 800-843-5678.
- Consider creating settings to control or prohibit access to the Internet, e-mail, and text messaging through your children's wireless device.
- A global-positioning system (GPS) option, if offered by your service provider, could be used to help locate your children if lost.
Tips for Parents and Guardians to Discuss With Children
- Never share your wireless number and personal or identifying information with anyone you don't know well and trust and without my permission. Respect your friends' privacy by never sharing their number or information.
- Never use your wireless device to take, send, or post pictures or video of your friends without permission from their parents or guardians. Taking or sharing embarrassing pictures of someone is a form of bullying and harassment. Once you post an image or video online you can't get it back.
- Keep your passwords private. Never share them with anyone other than me (and your mom/dad/other guardian).
- Never give photos of yourself to anyone you don't know well and trust and without my permission. Never send sexually provocative pictures or messages.
- Never respond to threatening or frightening voice messages, text messages, or photos. When that happens tell me or another trusted adult, and we'll report the incident to our service provider.
About the Program
Qwest and the Qwest Foundation are committed to helping families learn to protect their children from online threats. Since 2003, Qwest has partnered with NCMEC to raise awareness among families on online safety issues and to proactively help combat online exploitation of youth by encouraging increased parental and guardian understanding and education. Qwest currently is expanding its Online Safety Program nationally and throughout its Western 14-state region. For more information, visit IncredibleInternet.com/onlinesafety. In addition, the Qwest Foundation sponsors NCMEC resource NetSmartz411.org, a free, first-of-its-kind resource that gives families direct access to experts at NCMEC who can respond to their specific questions and concerns about online safety.
Qwest offers a unique and powerful combination of managed voice and data solutions for businesses, government agencies and consumers - locally and throughout the country. Customers coast to coast are turning to Qwest's industry-leading national fiber optic network and its Spirit of Service for quality products and superior customer experience. Qwest is a participant in Networx, the largest communications services contract in the world, to provide leading-edge voice, data and video services. For more information on Qwest, and its various operating subsidiaries, please go to www.qwest.com. For information about the products and services Qwest is offering in the Networx contract, visit www.gsanetworx.com.
About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC's congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 475,000 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 130,300 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 112,900 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1 800-THE-LOST, or visit its Web site at missingkids.com.
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