How parents can monitor online risks including predators, cyber-bulling

Whether it's for fun, work or school, we are all taking part in a lot more screen time amid this pandemic. 

For kids, it's online classes, FaceTime visits and online games. But, just as they did before the COVID-19 crisis started, some of those activities come with risks, as predators look to take advantage of young people. There is also concern over cyber bullying and sexting. 

For parents, it's critical to monitor what your kids and teens are clicking on to help pass the time. 

FOX 9 spoke with Mitzi Hobot, Executive Director at CornerHouse, a child advocacy center.

What should parents/caregivers do to increase safety:

1)    Set expectations and be sure that kids understand your expectations.

2)    Know and understand the sites, social media platforms, and games your child visits and know your child’s passwords – not to be controlling, but to assure safety.

3)    Continuously monitor your child’s online activities – what are they doing, who are they talking to, who is on their friends list.

4)    Do your best to limit your child’s online time and strive to have a healthy balance with other activities in their life.

5)    Educate your child about the difference between private and public information and what information should be shared.  In general, young children should not share their name, where they go to school, the name of their church, or send any photos to anyone online.  

6)    Older youth must be careful about how much information they share online – they need to know that their photos and content can be manipulated.

7)    A big warning sign that an adult is looking to harm a child is that they will engage in conversations with children about their bodies. Talk to your kids first – starting at a very young age and continuing through adolescence.

8)    Most importantly, reassure your kids that they can come to you with anything – without fear or judgement.  The most common reason children do not tell is fear of getting into trouble or losing their connection to online access and their friends.