Greater Sudbury Police Service Internet Child Exploitation Unit
SUDBURY, ONTARIO ~~~~ July 29, 2020 (LSN) Detective Sergeant Blair Ramsay of our Internet Child Exploitation Unit has an important message for parents and caregivers:
Lately, children and teens may be spending a lot more time online. It is vital for parents and caregivers to monitor your children’s online activities and keep open communication with them.
Remember, no amount of online filters or safety controls can replace parental supervision and communication.
* Your child may want to spend increased time connecting with friends by live streaming or video chatting. Talk to your child about the ease by which screengrabs and video recordings from live streams or video chats can be saved and used against tweens to embarrass or harm them, even by people they know.
* Like live streaming, online gaming platforms can open kids up to receiving chats or private messages from people they don’t know in real life (I.e. adults requesting to meet up in person, and/or sexually suggestive chat messages)
* TikTok is a hugely popular app for tweens and teens, and they may want to spend more time creating and posting content. Teens may be tempted to take risks or act explicitly to get more followers or likes on a video. This can also be heightened by TikTok challenges, which are created by TikTok and the community itself. While most are just silly viral trends or marketing schemes, some can be dangerous.
* Predators communicating online with a child for a sexual purpose — through a variety of apps and services such as Facebook/Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, online gaming platforms etc.
What can parents do?
1. Have regular conversations with your child/teen about online safety.
2. Set the expectation you will monitor your child’s online activities, and work together to establish guidelines around texting, social media, live streaming, and gaming, such as who your child can do these things with and on what apps.
3. Become familiar with, or revisit the parental controls on computers, phones, and tablets. Some devices allow parents to limit access to specific apps, social media sites, internet content, and features available within the device.
4. For younger children, help them create their login, password, and profile information ensuring it is set to private. For tweens and teens, know their username/character name and password, as well as the email address used to sign up for apps/games/social accounts.
5. Help tweens/teens set up privacy settings in apps/games/social accounts. With a private account, users can approve or deny followers/friends, restrict who can view their content and profile information, and limit incoming messages to followers/friends only. Work together to decide who to accept as followers/friends.
6. Tell your child that if they come across something or someone while chatting/messaging/texting that makes them feel uncomfortable, they can tell you without fear of getting in trouble or losing online privileges. Remind them that their safety is what is most important to you.
7. If you see, read, or hear anything sexual from an adult towards your child online, report it to https://www.cybertip.ca/app/en/
For more information on kids’ online interests, the potential risks, and points to help parents talk about online safety with kids no matter what their age, visit: https://protectkidsonline.ca/app/en/