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      Parents urged to monitor their children??s online activity

      In an effort to keep predators away from children, authorities say it starts with a conversation about the potential dangers online.

      40-year-old Jeremy Whittaker of Traverse City is being accused of texting inappropriate photos to a teenager.

      In an effort to keep predators away from children, authorities say it starts with a conversation about the potential dangers online.

      As technology changes, so does the way people communicate making it difficult for parents to keep track of their children's online activity.

      ??Parents should be aware of the fact that things like this can happen and have happened in Grand Traverse County in the past and for that reason they should be aware of what their children are doing online or on their cell phone,?? said Bob Cooney, Grand Traverse County Prosecutor.

      Whittaker reportedly reached out to the 14-year-old girl on Facebook and they started texting back and forth.

      ??Talk to your children about how they behave online as well because sometimes children will post things that they will later regret.??

      Cooney says starting that conversation will show kids that parents are interested in what they're doing. Parents should also talk about what to do if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe while online.

      ??I think you have to have your child's trust and so simply trying to spy on them or use software that would allow you to look at what they're looking at that may be necessary if the child has gone to some places where you don't feel comfortable.??

      Cooney says parents should learn how to use social media and get connected with their child to monitor their profiles.

      ??It's not only as a parent educating yourself but it's educating your children especially younger ones they don't have the same sense that when you put things out there what that Internet really means that it really is going to the worldwide,?? said Julie Doyal, Northwestern Michigan College Extended Education Program Coordinator.

      Mobile apps are available that allow parents to watch all incoming and outgoing calls, text messages, e-mails and browsing history.

      Northwestern Michigan College has offered classes in the past to teach parents the best ways to monitor kids online. After this most recent court case they're considering offering classes again this fall.