MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) — It’s almost summer and that means more kids at home are connected to some kind of technology, be it a computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone. It is for that reason that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is reminding parents to keep an eye on their children’s devices.
“If that device can connect to the Internet and send and receive data, you need to be involved if it’s in your child’s hands,” said Sergeant Jeremy J. Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Law enforcement in Alabama saw an increase in child exploitation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If that child sends or receives any form of exploitation material from himself or someone else, then that qualifies. And that is absolutely terrible. And we really want to avoid that at every turn,” said Burkett.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency wants to remind parents to keep an eye on their children’s devices, especially for apps that can access location and lead a potential predator to a child.
“Especially if they have a device with an app on it, they don’t need to have friends you don’t know. So if they get some strange friend request, because online predators often do, they will disguise themselves, use photos and establish a false identity to be in the same age range as your kid, when in reality they are actually an older predator that preys on your children,” Burkett said.
Sergeant Jeremy J. Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says a lot of parental controls can be put in place, but most importantly, parents need to stay involved.
“There are so many things that kids can be exposed to right now when it comes to technology, parents, you 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 are at a friend’s house or even at camp with internet access this summer, it’s important to make sure the kids around your child have the same controls.
The United States Department of Justice provides these tips to help protect your children.
- Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan with children before engaging in online activities. Set clear guidelines, teach children to recognize red flags, and encourage children to communicate openly with you.
- Monitoring the Internet Use of Young Children, including periodically checking their profiles and posts. Keep electronic devices in open, common areas of the home and consider setting time limits for their use.
- Check out games, apps and social media sites before being downloaded or used by children. Pay particular attention to apps and sites with end-to-end encryption, instant messaging, video chats, file uploads, and user anonymity, which often rely on online child predators.
- Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social media sites and electronic devices.
- Tell children not to share personal information, photos and videos online on public forums or with people they don’t know in real life. Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanent on the Internet.
- Teach children about body safety and boundariesincluding the importance of saying ‘no’ to inappropriate requests, both in the physical world and the virtual world.
- Be alert for possible signs of abuseincluding changes in children’s use of electronic devices, attempts to hide online activities, withdrawn behaviour, angry outbursts, 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 suspected online seduction or sexual exploitation of a child by calling 911contact 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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