So how can parents help keep their kids safe? Detective Rich Wistocki from BeSure Consulting teaches parents how to parent their children while online. He is a veteran investigator with 23 years of law enforcement, and he came into our ABC7 studio with tips.
1. What are the big dangers that kids face today on the Internet? Apps are an open door for predators to approach children in disguise. Predators pretend to be another kid and ask for your child's name and contact information. They'll ask your child to send photos of themselves.
2. When does an online relationship become dangerous? Predators target kids based on their posts, learn a lot about them quickly, and build an online trust relationship with them. Then, they take that relationship offline to a private relationship.
3. When it comes to apps, parents are way too trusting and think their kids would never do that. What they don't know is that other people would. Online predators use apps try to get their potential victims to go to video and victimize them there.
4. As a parent, how can you protect your kids from being approached by a predator? Know with whom your kid is interacting and in what relationships they are engaged. Use an internet monitoring tool.
5. We hear a lot about oversharing - kids posting personal information or photos. How serious is this problem? Sharing too much information and connecting with people outside your network can lead to predators because you've made yourself vulnerable. Kids can't see the big picture, so parents need to constantly supervise what they are doing online.
6. Is cyber bullying escalating as kids use technology more and more? Absolutely. The way kids interact now is online, and that's where cyber bullying happens. It starts as a little teasing, but it can escalate to embarrassing or threatening posts. Most kids who are bullied won't talk about it They'll keep it private or try to handle it themselves.
7. How would parents know if their child is being bullied? Look for signs of changed behavior. Be watchful of what goes on in their online life. Do more than just try to talk to them because they may not reveal anything is wrong.
One place parents can find tips and helpful resources about issues of cyber bullying and Internet predators is at TrueCare's online awareness website (www.truecare.com/).