Now that kids are headed back to school, we want to share ways you can keep your child and grandchildren safe online.
My coworker, 11 News morning reporter Jenna Middaugh, sat down with a sergeant for the Colorado Springs Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children unit. He asked to remain anonymous because he works undercover.
“Parents should be involved in their children’s digital life,” the sergeant told Middaugh. “The earliest possible age when children are starting to get online, parents should be involved in that – teaching them how to be safe online, how to come to them or another trusted adult if they see something that makes them uncomfortable or upset.”
His main message is that parents should be careful what information your kids are sharing online.
“Knowing stuff like not posting personal information online, including names, addresses, school that they attend,” he said. “What I often tell parents is that they need to know who their children’s friends are, not only in person but online.”
If your child or grandchild has a cell phone or laptop, you may want to consider having them sign a ‘digital contract’.
“Typically, that phone is going to belong to the parent even though they’re giving it to the child, so they have control over that phone. They can put applications on there that would help track the online usage of the phone by the child,” he said. “Also having a contract in place with the child (shows) the parameters that this how to responsibly use the device, that both the child and the parent agree on, signed. And it allows that trust to be built between the parent and the child.”
His advice is for parents to keep a watchful eye over how kids use their phones.
“A parent should also be checking on the device to make sure the child is navigating it properly, not going to inappropriate sites, talking with friends or other people that is in an appropriate way, not giving away personal information or sexually explicit images,” the sergeant added.
The Internet Crimes Against Children team said it doesn’t have a list of websites or apps that parents should be cautious of because predators can find children on any site.
“The technology is out there. So even if you do put restrictions on there, they may have access somewhere else, so having that good education, good foundation from the beginning is key,” he said. “What we often tell kids is, ‘How do you want to be known in your digital life?’ It should be somewhat similar to your real life. You want to be known as someone with some integrity, with some class. And that can be ruined if you send an image online in an instant.”
If you want to read more online about ways to keep your children safe, we put a link on our website — go to www.kktv.com and click on the red ‘Find It’ tab.
If you are interested in volunteering for our 11 Call for Action team to help consumers, give us a call at 719-457-8211.
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