Law enforcement talks online safety tips ahead of summer

Montgomery, Ala. (WSFA) – Summer is just around the corner and it means more kids in the home are connected to some kind of technology whether it’s a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. That’s why the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency reminds parents to monitor their children’s devices.

Sergeant Jeremy J.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, law enforcement in Alabama has seen an increase in child exploitation.

“If this kid sends or receives some kind of exploitation material for himself or someone else, that qualifies. And that is absolutely terrible. We really want to be able to prevent that at every turn,” Burkett said.

Alabama law enforcement wants to remind parents to monitor their children’s devices — especially for apps that access the site that could potentially lead to a child’s predator.

“Especially if they have some kind of device with an app, they don’t need to have friends that you don’t know. So, if they get some kind of weird friend request, because of cyber crooks often, that’s what they do, they’ll disguise, they’ll use pictures and reveal False identity to be in the same age group as your child, when in reality, they’re actually an older predator out there that preys on your kids,” Burkett said.

There are a lot of parental controls that can be put in place, but most importantly parents should continue to be involved, says Sgt. Jeremy J. Burkett of Alabama Law Enforcement.

“There are a lot of things kids can be exposed to now when it comes to technology, and as parents, one absolutely has to have a conversation with their kids, and really be involved in every device that their kids come into contact with,” Burkett said.

Burkett says that if your kids are going to be at a friend’s house or even camp this summer with internet access, it’s important to make sure the kids around your child have the same controls in place.

The US Department of Justice offers these tips to help protect your children.

  • Discuss internet security and develop an internet security plan with children before engaging in an online activity. Set clear guidelines, teach children to identify red flags, and encourage children to communicate openly with you.
  • Supervising young children’s use of the Internetincluding periodically checking their profiles and posts. Keep electronic devices in open, shared areas of the home, and consider setting time limits for their use.
  • Review of games, applications and social networking sites before they are downloaded or used by children. Pay special attention to apps and sites that feature end-to-end encryption, direct messages, video chats, file downloads, and user anonymization, which child online predators often rely on.
  • Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls For games, applications, social networking sites and electronic devices.
  • Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos and videos online On public forums or with people they don’t know in real life. Explain to your children that the pictures posted on the Internet will always be on the Internet.
  • Teach kids about body safety and limitsincluding the importance of saying “no” to inappropriate requests in both the physical and virtual worlds.
  • Watch out for potential signs of abuseincluding changes in children’s use of electronic devices, attempts to hide online activity, withdrawn behavior, tantrums, 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 solicitation or sexual exploitation of a child by calling 911contact the FBI at Tips.fbi.govor submit a report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in 5678-843-800-1 or report.cybertip.org.

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