Law enforcement talks internet safety tips ahead of summer
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Summer is almost here and that means more children are at home connected to some type of technology, whether it’s a computer, a laptop, a tablet or mobile phone. It is for this reason that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency reminds parents to monitor their children’s devices.
“If this device can connect to the internet and it can send and receive data, you need to participate in it if it’s in your child’s hands,” said Alabama Law Enforcement Sgt. Jeremy J. Burkett. Agency.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, law enforcement in Alabama saw an increase in child exploitation.
“If that child sends or receives any type of exploitative material from themselves or someone else, then that qualifies. And that’s absolutely terrible. And we really want to be able to prevent that at every turn” , Burkett said.
The Alabama law enforcement agency wants to remind parents to monitor their children’s devices, especially for apps that access location and could lead a potential predator to a child.
“Especially if they have some type of device that has an app installed on them, they don’t need to have friends you don’t know. So if they get some kind of weird friend request because a lot of times online predators do that, they’ll disguise themselves and they’ll use images and establish a fake identity to be in the same age range than your child, when in reality they are actually an older predator preying on your children,” Burkett said.
Sergeant Jeremy J. Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says there are a lot of parental controls that can be put in place, but most importantly parents need to stay engaged.
“There’s so much that kids can be exposed to now in terms of technology, parents absolutely have to have the conversation with their kids, be really involved with every device that their kids come into contact with,” Burkett said. .
Burkett says if your kids will be at a friend’s house or even at camp this summer with internet access, it’s important to make sure kids around your child have the same controls in place.
The US Department of Justice provides these tips to help protect your children.
- Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan with children before they engage in an online activity. Set clear guidelines, teach children to spot red flags, and encourage children to communicate openly with you.
- Supervise internet use by young children, including periodic checking of their profiles and messages. Keep electronic devices in open common areas of the home and consider setting time limits for their use.
- Review games, apps and social media sites before they are downloaded or used by children. Pay special attention to apps and sites that offer end-to-end encryption, direct messaging, video chats, file downloads, and user anonymity, which online child predators frequently rely on .
- Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social media sites and electronic devices.
- Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos and videos online in public forums or with people they don’t know in real life. Explain to your children that the images uploaded will be permanently on the internet.
- Teaching children body safety and boundariesincluding the importance of saying “no” to inappropriate requests in both the physical and virtual worlds.
- Be alert to potential signs of abuseincluding changes in children’s use of electronic devices, attempts to conceal online activity, withdrawal behaviors, outbursts of anger, anxiety and depression.
- Encourage children to tell a parent, guardian or other trusted adult if someone asks them to engage in sexual activity or other inappropriate behavior.
- Immediately report any suspicion of online incitement or sexual exploitation of a child calling 911by contacting the FBI at tips.fbi.govor file a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678 or report.cybertip.org.
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