Your Child and the Internet

As a parent, there is nothing scarier than to learn that your child has been sexually exploited on the internet.  These crimes normally occur while the child is in the safety of their own home and often while their guardians are just a room or two away.  Though a majority of online child sexual exploitation investigations result in the capture and prosecution of the perpetrator, there are steps that parents and guardians can take to protect their child from becoming a victim before it happens.

Sheriff Jay Russell offers the following safety tips to help protect your child from Internet predators:

1.) Research all activity that your child does on the internet.  Review their internet browsing history, their applications (APPS), photo logs, video logs and contact lists.  Pay close attention to the APPS that advertise as “kid friendly.”  Many times predators gravitate to these APPS because there is very little chance that an adult is supervising the activity.  Parents are encouraged to use parental control software applications to assist in monitoring internet activity.

2.) Talk to your child.  Build trust with your child and assure them that if anyone says or does anything on the internet that is inappropriate to immediately tell you what happened.  Also warn your child to not trust people that they communicate with online.  If your child informs you of inappropriate activity on the internet, do not delete any of the communication and do not communicate with the suspect.  Immediately notify your local law enforcement agency.

3.) Create “NO-GO” zones and “TIME OUT” periods for your child’s devices.  “NO-GO” zones are areas of the home that the child does not need to have access to their devices while on the internet.  Examples include bathrooms, bedrooms or other low traffic areas of the home.   “TIME OUT” periods should be determined by the parents or guardians.  These times should be adjusted accordingly to the child’s age.  These are specific times of the day that a child is restricted from use of the device.  Many criminal acts occur after a child has been put to bed and still have access to communicate with others on the internet.

“Working together, we can keep our children safe during their use of the Internet” says Sheriff Russell.