MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Summer is almost here and that means more children are at home connected to some type of technology whether it be a computer, laptop, tablet, or cell phone. It’s for that reason the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is reminding parents to monitor their children’s devices.
“If that device can connect to the internet and it can send and receive data, you need to be involved in that if it’s in your child’s hands,” said Sergeant Jeremy J. Burkett with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, law enforcement in Alabama saw an increase in child exploitation.
“If that child sends or receives some type of exploitation material of themselves or somebody else, then that qualifies. And that’s absolutely terrible. And we really want to be able to prevent that in every turn,” said Burkett.
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 on it, they don’t need to have any friends that you don’t know about. So if they get some type of weird friend request, because oftentimes online predators, that’s what they do, they’ll disguise themselves, they’ll use pictures and establish a false identity to be in the same age range as your child, when in reality, they’re actually an older predator out there preying on your children,” said Burkett.
Sergeant Jeremy J. Burkett with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says there are a lot of parental controls that can be put in place, but most importantly parents must remain engaged.
“There are so many things that children can be exposed to now when it comes to technology, parents, absolutely one have to have the conversation with their children, be really involved in every device that their children come in contact with,” said Burkett.
Burkett says if your children will be at a friend’s home or even at camp this summer with access to the internet it is important to make sure the children that your child is around have the same controls in place.
The U.S. Justice Department gives these tips to help protect your children.
- Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan with children before they engage in online activity. Establish clear guidelines, teach children to spot red flags, and encourage children to have open communication with you.
- Supervise young children’s use of the internet, 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.
- Review games, apps, and social media sites before they are downloaded or used by children. Pay particular attention to apps and sites that feature end-to-end encryption, direct messaging, video chats, file uploads, and user anonymity, which are frequently relied upon by online child predators.
- Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social medial sites, and electronic devices.
- Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos, and videos online in public forums or with people they do not know in real life. Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the internet.
- Teach children about body safety and boundaries, including the importance of saying ‘no’ to inappropriate requests both in the physical world and the virtual world.
- Be alert to potential signs of abuse, including changes in children’s use of electronic devices, attempts to conceal online activity, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, and depression.
- Encourage children to tell a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult if anyone asks them to engage in sexual activity or other inappropriate behavior.
- Immediately report suspected online enticement or sexual exploitation of a child by calling 911, contacting the FBI at tips.fbi.gov, or filing a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678 or report.cybertip.org.
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