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State urges parents to sign kids up for Child Protection Registry

New initiative blocks adult-oriented ads

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published December 21, 2016

Screen capture from www.ProtectMiChild.com

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ROCHESTER — The internet is a huge part of today’s culture, especially for youth. 

But keeping kids safe while online can be a challenge.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teens spend an average of 2.3 hours per day surfing the internet, playing video games, texting with friends and viewing TV —  and nearly twice as much time on the weekends. Children as young as preschool age are also using the internet, playing games, and using devices and services produced just for their age group.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is reminding parents and school administrators that there’s an effective way to protect children from unwanted online ads and solicitations online — the Michigan Child Protection Registry.

Johnson, who has a teenage daughter, said it can be a struggle to keep up with what kids are doing online, whether they are in schools, libraries, homes or on the go with cellphones, tablets and laptops. 

“Protecting your child from unwanted internet content can be a challenge, which is why I am pleased to promote the ProtectMiChild website. It offers parents and schools a secure and simple way to put some controls in place regarding the internet content children see,” she said in a statement.

The free and secure service blocks adult-oriented ads for products like alcohol, tobacco, pornography and online gambling from reaching children’s email inboxes, tablets, cellphones and instant messenger IDs.

Fred Woodhams, spokesman for Johnson, said the registry is a great resource for parents to protect their children from inappropriate advertisements. 

“As a parent myself, as much as we’d like to, it’s not possible to watch a child every minute of the day, so it can be a struggle to keep up with all the new media sites and online games that kids use. The ProtectMiChild website offers parents and caregivers a secure and simple way to put some controls in place,” he said.

Parents and schools can register the electronic addresses for any devices children use at Protect MiChild.com, a secure registry housed on the Secretary of State website. Once the child’s cellphone number, email address and instant messenger ID are entered into the system, the registry will block adult internet ads for all of the registered contact points for three years, or until the youngest child with access to the contact point reaches the age of 18. ProtectMiChild registrations may be renewed at any time for an additional three-year period.

Woodhams said companies that send messages that advertise or link to prohibited products or services are required to remove the registered contact email, phone number or IM from their mailing lists within 30 days. 

“People might see an increase in advertisements (over the holidays), so it is a good time to add your child to the registry and get them signed up and protected from inappropriate advertisements,” he said.

For more information, visit the registry at www.ProtectMiChild.com.

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