Sure, we may have talked to a pedophile or two, but we lived, dammit.

Fortunately, by taking steps to keep your personal information private, being cautious when it comes to interacting with people you meet online, and ending communication with people who threaten you, you’ll be better able to safeguard yourself from predators.

Once upon a time, our parents didn't have a clue what we were doing online.

Sure, in real life you may have been a Dungeons and Dragons playing loner with duct-taped glasses, but online you could be the suave AOL romeo you'd always dreamed of being. It's going date us immensely when we someday tell our children of plugging a common search term in a search engine and having zero results, but we'll know that we were the true online pioneers.

Until your potential mate requested a picture, of course. We knew the thrill of navigating the unknown wildernesses of the internet before firewalls and parental controls and the like neutralized the treacherous terrain.

The original chat rooms were popular online pickup scenes, the equivalent of an internet singles bar.

Only, truth be told, all the people in those rooms were probably either under the age of 12 or over the age of 50.

There was no catching of predators, no online policing, just pure, unadulterated dangerous fun.

If anything, our parents were more concerned with our tying up the phone lines than our online whereabouts.

While today a notion like that might raise a red flag or two, these things were chalked up to good, clean fun back then. Children delighted in their ability to fool others, though looking back it's unlikely that my friends and I fooled anyone with our fifth grade writing skills and general misunderstanding of innuendos.

From the moment a person asked, "A/S/L", you knew it was on.

I'd sit for scores of minutes at a time, waiting impatiently for that little running AOL man to enter his successive phase of connectedness.