Investigators call them “travelers” – sexual predators who groom their young victims using text messages or social media, then travel to meet them. In some cases, sexual predators have mailed smart phones to their victims to gain direct access. Predators have used the Internet to find victims for years, but are now reaching children through smart phones and other Wi-Fi capable devices.
Last week the Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that someone may have downloaded child pornography at the Huntington Beach Public Library. The man is suspected of using a Nintendo DS and the library’s Wi-Fi connection to download the material.
Keeping our children safe has always been a major priority, however things have changed. Back in the day, our parents could see the predator or neighborhood bully and simply make us feel safe inside of our homes. Unfortunately with the Internet, predators now have access that defies brick and mortar. Predators now use Social Media and Texting to contact children regardless of location.
The predators are not going away, and we must be relentless in keeping our children safe on the Internet.
Practical Internet Safety Tips:
- Predators can reach out to children via smart phones. Smart Phones are mini-computers which give your child access to the world. Just because your child does not use the “traditional” Computer does not mean they are 100% safe. If you do not want your child to use the Internet via their smart phone, make sure you disable the Internet/Wi-Fi Connection.
- With thousands of Apps available, its imperative to discuss the “rules” around downloading apps. What apps are appropriate, should your child ask before downloading anything, etc.
- This is on the Job Training. Technology changes quickly but you can stay on top of Internet activity by communicating with your child, other parent’s, reading information about online safety, and most importantly participating in Social Networks where your children have profiles.
- Monitor your child’s texting activity. Who are they texting, who is texting them, what time of the day are they receiving texts, do you recognize the numbers, etc.
- Keep in mind that the majority of “predators” are not strangers. If you notice your child texting and receiving texts from adult women/men that you are familiar with…ask questions.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. The #1 tip to keeping your kids safe online is having open conversations about expectations and consequences.
Read the full article: at the Orange County Register