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Online Safety For Children Comes From Communication

January 30, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

Online Safety For Children Comes From Communication

For the long list of benefits the World Wide Web offers to all ages, a level of fear still remains. According to those who protect Internet users from crime, that fear is justified.

"They can be a safe place 90 percent of the time, 99 percent of the time, but there's always people out there that are out to scam, out to con, and chat platforms are the perfect environment for that," Sioux Falls Police Detective Jessica Speckmeier said.

Many of those scammers are looking to target young children, who Detective Speckmeier says are the most vulnerable. The kids are looking for someone to understand them, to believe in what they believe. Those conversations are called 'grooming' and it is all a set-up.

"It's where they get the kids to be comfortable enough to communicate and to do things they wouldn't do, such as maybe sending that first picture, which then turns into another picture," Speckmeier said.

There are ways to keep your children safe from this kind of activity online. Asking for a child's username and password for sites like Facebook and Twitter is not out of bounds.

"Let me take a look at your Facebook, I want to see who your friends are, and I want you to explain to me how exactly you know 2,000 people and you're friends with 2,000 people on Facebook, and can you tell me something personal about those 2,000 people you're friends with," Speckmeier said.

An open line of communication and a set of expectations for their online activity can be all it takes to make sure your kid is as protected as possible.

"It's really no different than good parenting. Setting rules, having expectations and making sure they're followed through on. Except now, we also need to do that on the digital environment," Speckmeier said.

Speckmeier makes it a point to say that it is not the device or the site that is the negative, it is the people that use it and how it is used, which is why communication is so important with your child.

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