ROANOKE, Va. – Whether it’s for school or for fun, kids are becoming more active on the internet — but they may not be aware of the dangers that come with it.
Children’s Trust in Roanoke is all about standing against child abuse and told 10 News it’s easy, especially right now, for parents to give kids access to online technology to keep them busy. But, not everyone online has good intentions.
It can be tough for kids to understand, specifically ages 12 to 17, but Children’s Trust doesn’t believe stopping internet use is the answer.
Christina Rouse, Children’s Advocacy Center program director at Children’s Trust said parents need to talk to their kids about being safe online, remind them to avoid talking to strangers they don’t know, parents need to check their child’s internet browser history often and set up parental controls.
If your child has encountered an online predator, it may show up in their behavior.
“Kids start removing themselves from their normal activity, spending time online during after hours or at night, being very protective of not leaving their device alone or with other people, some of those things could be concerning red flags,” said Rouse.
A mistake Rouse said parents make often is thinking your child is only at risk when using the internet on their phone. She said the risk comes from anywhere your kids have access to the internet, including online gaming technology like a play station.
Children’s Trust recommends if you suspect your child is getting solicited online or have seen inappropriate messages on their online device to not try and investigate the situation yourself. Instead, reach out to social services and police right away and take away the device so nothing gets deleted.
Most importantly, don’t punish your child right away.
“They need to have an open dialogue with their kids and if a child comes to them and admits to or feels that they are being solicited online or even extorted online that parent needs to be very supportive of that child and do the appropriate things to support them,” Rouse said.
Click here for the FBI educational video for children ages 3 to 8 to teach them about online safety.
Here are resources from the Department of Justice.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also has information for parents, here.