Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren has issued a video aimed at helping parents to protect their children from online predators.
“Summer camps are limited. Parents are stretched thin. It’s a perfect storm for predators,” Warren said, in a news release.
During the pandemic, Warren’s office already has seen “disturbing attempts by online predators to exploit children,” the release says. “Prosecutors worry this summer may be even worse because of a lack of child care, combined with parents stretched thin by work and stress.”
Warren has released a Secure Summer Video.
In that video, he shares three key tips:
- Talk about it: Make sure your child knows that the online world has people who may try to take advantage of them. Explain how they may be approached, and that strangers sometimes pretend to be a kid their age. That dialogue will help your kids understand that they should come to you if someone tries to exploit them or bully them online.
- Review what they’re sharing: Know their social media and messenger passwords, and log in from time to time to see what they’re sending and receiving. Make sure they’re using strong privacy settings on services like Instagram, Facebook, Twitch and Discord.
- Use parental controls: Many devices and apps let you choose what your child can access, and for how long. Set up those controls and use them.
Darmaris Allen, immediate past president of the Hillsborough County PTA, said “it’s so important to talk with your kids before they ever face a dangerous situation online.”
The child advocate continued: “Can it be tough to have conversations about this? Absolutely. But, as parents, our No. 1 job is to keep our children safe—even if it means having some awkward conversations or learning a little more about the technology they’re using.”
Last year, the national CyberTipline received more than 150,000 reports from the public relating to children across America being taken advantage of online.
Warren takes this issue seriously: “Children are already becoming victims during the pandemic. Predators are capitalizing on how much unsupervised time kids are spending online.”
Published August 12, 2020