PORTLAND -- With hundreds of millions of people using Facebook and other social media, its impossible to know whether everyone is truly who they say they are.
That's why police like Patrick Kennedy, who chases cyber stalkers for Vancouver, Washington, police said parents should be nosy when it comes to their children’s Internet usage.
“The most important thing a parent can do is just to know what their child's doing online," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said those who would take advantage of children are more than willing to chat online and pretend to be someone they are not. But again, parents can thwart that by talking with their children.
“Unfortunately, if you don’t talk to your kids about safe online practices...there's someone out there whose more than happy to talk to your kids online," Detective Kennedy said.
KGW interviewed people near Portland’s Multnomah Athletic Club and found parents doing exactly what Kennedy suggested.
Marianne Wells, for example, has a 16-year-old daughter. She insisted on becoming “friends” with her daughter on Facebook, which allows her to see exactly what is being said and who is communicating with her daughter.
She also asks lots of questions. “I walked into the kitchen the other day and she was talking to a soldier in Iraq who was a friend's big brother---so I do worry but we have really good communication and I stay on top of it," Wells said.
Detective Kennedy says it will take effort to keep up with what your kids are doing online but it will be worth it.
“If you can stop a predator from even initiating any kind of contact, you are way ahead of the game. Way ahead of the game," he said.