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Protect your child from online predators and traffickers

Monitoring and screen-time management experts report an increase in predatory behavior in the first few months of quarantine last year.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Virtual learning is part of the norm now, which means more screen time. However, experts say it's important to protect your kids from online predators and traffickers while on the web.

"The first three months of quarantine, we reported a 23.1 percent increase in predators we alerted the authorities about," says Bark School Safety Manager, Renee Abrams.

"Bark", a monitoring and screen-time management company, says last year more than 70 percent of pre-teens, and more than 87 percent of teens encountered nudity or content of sexual nature.

"Because kids have been online, and we've all been online so much more, it's just a hotbed for just more circumstances and opportunities for predators to engage," says Abrams.

Abrams says to beware of certain social media apps. KIK, Spotify, Tumblr, Pinterest, and SMS/iMessage were flagged for "severe sexual content".

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"Those apps that we night think are pretty harmless, I know I mentioned even the bible application and the FitBit Community board is being in places - where we found predatory behavior."

Abrams says to look out for the predatory behavior. "Predators typically  want explicit photos. They want to meet in person. They want to engage in sexual conversation, or there are some sort of financial benefit."

Abrams says it's not a matter of if these situations will happen, but when. "Looking these difficult numbers and these difficult situations right in the eye, and having those tough conversations with your kids. If there are any takeaways from this, I think it would be those things," says Abrams.

You're also encouraged to document everything that happened and when, websites, along with names.

For additional information, experts recommend visiting the site below to encourage conversation.