Child predators are a real threat, and parents must take a proactive approach to protect kids online. That is the message from US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Jay Town. He says there are steps parents can take to help keep their kids from becoming a victim.
“Predators are out there waiting,” said Town. “Assume the worst. Assume the worst that can happen, and parent from there.”
Knowing what your kids are doing online and communicating with them about it is more important than ever. Town says parents should have an eye out for any apps or games with chat features– which can be a gateway for predators to reach out to kids.
“If you’re not aware of whether an application or a game has chat, you need to become aware,” he said. “And if it does, you need to disable it and leave it disabled, and check it.”
Town says to find out if your child has been chatting on apps or games– even if you think they’re just chatting with another friend. If there are parental controls, use them.
Parents should also talk with kids about their social media accounts and the content they’re sharing on them. If social media account settings are not private, a predator may be able to gather a lot of information about your child from their social media pages.
Education is also important to help protect kids. Be proactive and bring up issues like human trafficking, so they’re aware of the dangers.
“It’s on us; we’re the adults in this,” said Town. “And we can really take a big chunk of what child predators are trying to do away from them by just being responsible in the way we conduct ourselves and the way we are allowing our children to conduct themselves with our digital devices and gaming devices.”