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Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, left, Scott Sabey, local representative of Entertainment Software Association, and Speaker of the House Greg Curtis announce the launch of a new Internet safety video game program at the Utah State Capitol today.

The man offered the teen-age girl a modeling contract, saying she had an "icy, mysterious" quality.

She sent the mysterious online personality a few face shots. Then, she started being stalked and her pictures were turned into lurid porn images.

"My parents are going to kill me," the girl said.

That's the demo for a new video game being marketed to 11-to-16-year-old girls in schools along the Wasatch Front. Other games target teen-age boys.

The Entertainment Software Association is distributing several games aimed at teaching kids about Internet safety. With names like "Missing," "Mirror Image," and "Airdogs," the sleuthing games try to bypass the stigma that educational games are "uncool." The association is a coalition of software companies and video game manufacturers.

As part of a $75,000 pilot program, students in the Jordan, Granite, Salt Lake, Murray and Alpine school districts will be the first in the nation to try out Web Wise Kids.

"There are more computers per capita in households here in Utah," the association's Sally Jefferson said Tuesday.

That also makes children more vulnerable here to Internet predators, authorities argue. Utah leads the nation in per capita arrests of online child predators.

"The more offensive plays you have and defensive schemes you have, the better off you're going to be in a game," said Capt. Rhett McQuiston, the commander of the Utah Attorney General's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The games will be distributed to 75 schools and children will play them in their computer classes as part of curriculum on Internet safety, school officials said.

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"The goal is to teach the kids themselves and arm them with the tools they need so when they're exploring cyberspace they can recognize an Internet predator, recognize if they're being stalked," Jefferson said.

Similar programs have been launched by the state for students. Web Wise Kids will work in cooperation with them, said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

"This will be one more tool that we have," he said.

More information can be found on the Web site www.webwisekids.org.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com