Expert gives parents advice on keeping children safe online - WSMV News 4

Expert gives parents advice on keeping children safe online

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

"Be a parent, not a pushover," is the message that some Midstate experts in child sexual abuse want parents to hear.

Sue Fort White, executive director of Our Kids, works with children every day who are victims of sexual abuse.

"Log on to a site and set your age at 13, and people will be asking for or sending you pictures within minutes," White said.

Every victim's story is different, but Our Kids staff often counsel children who've been lured into dangerous situations through social media.

"The predators are out there trolling through apps and other measures to find who are the kids that seem needy, lonely, angry with their parents, isolated," White said.

Whether the child is new to a smartphone or not, White says now is the time to set guidelines and that communication is key.

Below are some tips for all parents:

  • Talk with your child about internet and phone safety and explain the device is a privilege. Explain that the device is yours, not theirs.
  • Turn on Google safe search to filter out sexually explicit video and images.
  • Control downloads through password protection. Set your device so only you hold the iTunes password. If your child wants an app, you have to input the password.
  • Check your child's devices at random intervals. If they violate rules you've set, there's a consequence.
  • Create a central charging station in your house. Place all devices there at night to limit their hours of usage and help keep them safe.
  • "Friend" or "follow" your child on every account they have. Do the the same with their friends and watch how they interact.
  • Guide your children on any pictures they take and explain that they should not send pictures of their private parts to anyone.
  • Tell your child that if you don't know someone in real life, don't let them follow you.

White also strongly advises parents to check their child's search history and to set rules about what's appropriate and what's not.

Click here to find more information about checking your child's browser history and how to set up privacy settings.

"I think it sends a very important message to their child, to their teenager that, ya know, we are going to enforce our guidelines, and we are going to be checking what you're doing with your phone," White said.

It's not easy being a parent, but when your child's safety is at risk, White says parents have to step up.

"At the end of the day, they have to be the one towing the line, so parents need to be parents and not pushovers," she said.

Visit or for more information on guidelines and tips to keep your children safe.

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