Online safety tips for kids home during the summer

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:40 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - School is out for the summer for kids here in our area. This could mean more screen time for some children.

Children’s advocates are reminding parents to monitor their child’s devices which can be dangerous spaces.

For over 30 years, child protect has assisted the Department of Human Resources and Law Enforcement in their investigation of child sexual abuse and physical abuse.

“We do that by providing a forensic interview. And we also offer follow-up counseling and support services for families,” said Child Protect Executive Director Kristin Byrd.

Byrd says in comparison to this time last year they’ve seen a 5 to 6 percent increase in cases they are handling.

“What we do see comes in waves. And there’s no real data that supports when we see what we see,” says Byrd.

In addition to sexual and physical abuse cases, Bryd says they also see more internet crimes against children.

“What I mean by that is, children who are participating in pornography are not always realizing that is what they’re doing,” stated Byrd.

When school is out, more children are at home and connected to some type of technology, whether it be the internet, a tablet, or a cell phone. So Byrd says it is crucial for parents to monitor their child’s devices.

“Because the internet is so open to everyone these days, things can easily happen. And you can have predators or offenders or even other children their age, reach out to them and show them things, send them pictures, send them videos that your child might not necessarily want to see,” Byrd said.

She says while parental controls are important, you can’t wholly depend on them. You must stay involved and keep communication open with your child.

You have access to their phones. So check in occasionally to see what messages, pictures, or videos they might be seeing or whatnot.

Byrd says to look for red flags if your child’s behavior changes. You see changes in their appetite, they seem more isolated, which may be a sign something traumatic may have happened.

If you suspect your child is a victim of any form of abuse, you should call law enforcement immediately.

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