Internet safety tips for children and teens

August 2, 2018

Children are not just vulnerable in public places, but in homes with dangers imported by Wi-Fi networks.

Do not talk to strangers is the mantra, but it has never been easier for our children to do just that by using technology. Social media applications such as Twitter, Musical.ly, Snapchat, Instagram and KIK, and online gaming systems like PlayStation and Xbox, allow child predators go where the children are. Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman and his team would like to remind all parents and guardians of a few simple guidelines to help protect young people.

“The Precinct 4 Constable’s Office offers free internet safety presentations for children and adults. Contact our High Tech Crimes Division at (832)-927-6158 to have one of our experienced and knowledgeable investigators speak to your group,” said Constable Mark Herman.

Stay Involved — Parental involvement is the best safety feature. Make them use their technologies in the open and ask questions —such as, who are you talking with? Do you physically know this person? What apps are you using, etc.

Inspect location services on devices and determine how they are used. If your child takes a picture of themselves in their own home, and sends it to someone, the child may be broadcasting the GPS coordinates of their location, unwittingly to potential suspects.

Mood changes and sudden “recluse” behavior are indicators of technological problems, like Harassment or ‘Cyberbullying,’ up to an including online sexual exploitation. Just as parents used to look for their kid’s diaries and journals, the devices may hold information for possible changes in behavior by your child.

Review your child’s devices on a regular basis for inspection and consider activating features such as family sharing on phone accounts to better monitor text, call, and data usage.

Consult online resources such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s www.netsmartz.org for talking points and more strategies for online safety.

If you discover suspicious or dangerous activity on your child’s devices:

Maintain a calm demeanor and control your anger.

Your child is a victim, manipulated by an adult who broke his societal bond to protect and nurture our young people.

Preserve the evidence, resisting the urge to destroy the device or delete the suspect application.

Contact Law Enforcement for immediate assistance.

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