Toledoans react to MySpace kidnapping

William Mitchell is on the run after allegedly kidnapping a Florida teen he met online.
William Mitchell is on the run after allegedly kidnapping a Florida teen he met online.
Cassandra Loveland says she's no longer visiting MySpace because of a bad experience she had.
Cassandra Loveland says she's no longer visiting MySpace because of a bad experience she had.

TOLEDO -- After a teen was kidnapped in Florida by a man she met on MySpace, folks here in Toledo are thinking twice about how the Internet is affecting them and their children, reports News 11's Tim Miller.

Still, many don't know their kids are on MySpace are too intimidated to learn how the Internet works.

At Bowsher High School on Wednesday evening, students told News 11's Miller that they're worried -- even scared -- about who's out there on sites they enjoy visiting. Several Whitmer volleyball players -- at Bowsher for a game -- said they use MySpace to check in with their friends and make new ones.

But some are using more caution while navigating cyberspace. Student Cassandra Loveland says she has adjusted her Internet use precisely because of what happened to her online.

"I got a friend request one day, and I accepted him and he became a stalker and he started sending me nasty comments so I stopped using it for a while. I haven't used it for, like, three months now," Loveland said.

"I had one and my parents made me delete it because of predators and everything, so I haven't been on it in I don't even know how long anymore," said Whitmer student Sammy Holloman.

Debbie Ollila has two teenaged daughters. She protects them from Internet predators by monitoring who they're communicating with.

"Learn a little bit. Don't always trust them. You should know a little bit -- at least be able to look at it, look at it over their shoulders," Ollila said.

"She asks me about it, and I just show it to her and I let her read all my comments, all my messages, and I let her look at all my friends," said Brittany Ollila about her mom's vigilance.

Tammy Puligandla's son, Reed, goes to Byrnedale Middle School. She takes safety one step further by creating a MySpace account of her own.

"I have daughters, too, so that's why I always monitored it. I wanted to see who they were talking to and make sure it was people who they knew," Puligandla said.

At the bottom of the MySpace.com home page, there's a link to safety tips for parents. You can learn how to keep certain information private. Also, it's suggested that you should warn your kids that people aren't always who they say they are and that they should report any harassment or inappropriate content.

Posted by KO