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Virginia ranks as one of most dangerous states for kids online

ROANOKE, Va. – School's out for the summer and that means more children will be venturing online. That also means parents need to be on high alert because Virginia ranked third on a list of the most dangerous states for children online. Arizona and Colorado topped the list.

"I always talk to kids about stranger danger and how that exists in the online world as well," said Brooks Michael, an adolescent health educator at Carilion. 

Internet Service Partners compiled the list. It looked at risk factors in each state, such as youth victims of internet crime, cyberbullying laws and youth mental illness rates. Internet safety advocates say, no matter where you are, it's crucial that parents take an active approach to their children's online presence.

"Being able to check in on a regular basis and see what they're doing is really important. It's hard but you've got to make time for it," said Michael, who also works with the Prevention Council of Roanoke County. 

If you don't know where to start, here are some tips:

  • Talk to your children and open up a line of communication. 
  • Stay up-to-date on how apps such as Snapchat and Instagram work. 
  • Set boundaries with phone usage. Michael recommends parents hold off on getting children smartphones until they're at least in middle school, and then limit the amount of time during which the phone can be used. 

It can be a lot of work, but in a time when anything can happen on the internet, it's worth the extra effort. 

"Online, they might say things or do things they normally wouldn't do," said Michael. 

To read more about the report, click here.