Why parents should be social media savvy
MISSOULA – Internet safety has made headlines again this month after a teacher in Missoula was arrested on charges of attempted sexual abuse. Investigators say part of the communication took place online.
This is the kind of information that might give many parents pause for thought: do they know enough about what their children are doing online? And who is reaching out to them?
MTN News spoke with Katie Hall, a forensic technician with the Missoula Police Department.
“There is no such thing as a bad app, it’s just the way you chose to use it. Many applications are no longer just games or photos; you can communicate through any app at this point, ”Hall said.
Hall has spent much of his career talking to kids and parents about internet safety. She recommends reaching kids where they live today – on apps where they communicate with the world.
“Even if they don’t want a Snapchat account or have no interest in Instagram, they still keep getting those accounts and having their kids give them a tutorial on this app … so parents will know how it is.” works and the child is aware that the parents understand how these applications work. And something I always suggest is that parents be friends or connected with their kids on these apps. – Katie Room
She told MTN News that sometimes children are the ones who inadvertently put themselves in the sights of a predator by revealing too much.
“It could be something in their username or email address that says their name, their date of birth; maybe something they’re really interested in, ”Hall said. “Or in their emojis that they used to describe themselves on Instagram. There, that gives a lot of information and this person can easily deceive a child into believing that he knows her when she does not know her.
The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Working Group Program is a national organization dedicated to investigating and prosecuting crimes against children on the Internet.
In addition, the website Common sense media can help a parent make sense of the latest app or determine if a new show is appropriate for their kids through not only parent review, but also feedback from kids – the ones we rely on to help us navigate the novelty.
“The media these kids are on, cell phones and computers are just an extension of themselves. When I do presentations for kids, I always say your parents are the ones who don’t know what’s going on here. You’re smarter than your parents here, so maybe come home and show your parents how to turn on their privacy settings on their Instagram account. So when I do these presentations, we are talking to the kids about what they need to educate their parents as well. “- Katie Room
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure that children feel comfortable talking with adults when something uncomfortable or disturbing is found online.
Online safety tools for parents, children, educators: https://www.netsmartz.org/Home
Parenting Children Safely
Guide to Protecting Children from Sexual Assault. Practical information for parents on body safety: https://parentingsafechildren.com/