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'Slenderman' opens conversation about Internet safety

Friday - 6/6/2014, 11:05am  ET

Larry Magrid on Slenderman, safety

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WASHINGTON -- The recent stabbing of a 12-year-old Wisconsin girl has brought up questions about online fiction, Slenderman and online safety.

The girl's health is improving now after being stabbed 19 times by two other girls, who claimed they did the stabbing as a sacrifice for an online fictional character, Slenderman.

"It's always a good idea to talk to your kids about what they're doing online," said Larry Magid, CBS News and CNET technology consultant.

"Putting this case into context," Magrid said, " I've talked to a number of people about this including psychiatrists and pediatricians, and just about every expert I talked to said this is a mental health issue, it's not an Internet safety issue. It's an issue of two girls who obviously had some issues and maybe this touched it off -- but there are so many kids looking at these sites who otherwise are perfectly normal."

The case does highlight the need for parents to really get to know their children, however, in addition to monitoring their online and offline activities.

Magrid co-runs a site called ConnectSafely.org that provides parents with information about how to talk to children offline.

"Be in touch with your kids," Magrid said. "Have dinner together, have frequent conversations and appreciate the beauty in your children."

ConnectSafely.org recommends frequent "low-key, routine discussion about online experiences, just as with offline ones, makes it easier for them to talk with you when things come up."

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