FBI: Keep Your Kids Safe from Cyber Predators & Bullying (Multi-Video)

Ensure that your child is sharing every social media account and instant messaging service she has with you, including the passwords. Check those accounts—as well as instant messaging programs and texts—for disturbing content on a regular basis.
Ensure that your child is sharing every social media account and instant messaging service she has with you, including the passwords. Check those accounts—as well as instant messaging programs and texts—for disturbing content on a regular basis.

Courtesy of the Oregon FBI

Building a digital defense to protect your kids as they head back to school with cell phones.

Summer is over, and it’s time to pack up the backpacks and lunch bags for another school year.

And, if your kids are headed back to class with a cell phone tucked in their pockets, they are not alone.

More and more kids are getting phones by the time they enter middle school—and some are toting their phones through elementary school hallways.

It’s a great way for you to keep in touch with your student through the day… and, should you so desire, there are plenty of apps to help you keep track of your kid’s movements minute by minute.

But, parents and kids alike need to recognize the risks that come bundled with that device, too.

Here are some basic phone tips to keep your child safe with Cell Phones:

  • The phone should default to a locked setting.
    • The only people who should have that access code are the child and the parent.
  • Beyond that, parents should know every password to every device and every password to every app on that device.
    • Sure you want your kids to have some privacy as they grow up, but they are still kids.
    • You pay the bill, and as long as that child is a child, she is your responsibility.
  • Check the privacy and security settings on the phone and the apps.
    • Check regularly to make sure they are up-to-date.
  • Learn about how photos are geo-tagged.
    • Even if you are discreet about what you post, your photos could be tagged in the meta-data with your child’s exact location.
    • Do you want just anybody to know what school your child goes to or what field his team uses for soccer practice?
    • You should be able to turn this feature off in settings.
  • Teach your kids to never respond to calls, texts, or e-mails from unknown numbers or people.
    • Scam artists and predators are more than happy to victimize them, regardless of age.

(Courtesy of the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood and YouTube)

Building a digital defense to protect your kids from cyber bullying.

But no matter how much care you take, that phone can serve as an open door to cyber bullies.

Here are some basic phone tips to keep your child safe from Cyber Bullying:

  • Talk early and often to your students about the dangers that they may find on the other end of the line.
    • If your child is old enough to carry a phone to school, he is old enough to have a frank discussion with you.
    • Be open and responsive.
    • If your child does encounter a bully or other disturbing content, you want him to feel like he can come to you to for help.
  • Ensure that your child is sharing every social media account and instant messaging service she has with you, including the passwords.
  • Check those accounts—as well as instant messaging programs and texts—for disturbing content on a regular basis.
    • You and your kids should have a non-negotiable understanding that this access is a requirement for continued phone use.
  • Make sure your child is using appropriate screen names.
    • “Babygirl2005” and “sweet16” may sound cute and innocent, but they can be a beacon to predators.
  • Talk to your kids about what constitutes appropriate language and photos.
    • If they would be embarrassed—or worse— to see what they wrote or posted on a billboard outside their home or school, they shouldn’t send it.
    • It is crucial that they understand that just because something starts out as a private communication between two people does not mean that it can’t be shared with thousands of people in mere seconds.
    • One sexually explicit photo can change a life forever.
  • Teach them to program the privacy settings on social media feeds to the highest level and to reject any “friend requests” from those they don’t know and trust in a face-to-face relationship.
  • Teach your kids to think about every message they send and consider whether it is dangerous, hurtful, or rude before hitting send.
    • Every kid has the potential to get swept up in the emotions of the moment and may say or do something online that they wouldn’t do in real life.

(FBI highlights the devastating effects of cyber bullying. Courtesy of the FBI and YouTube)

Parents think of it this way:

  • Would you let an unknown person come in through your front door?
  • Leave hurtful messages in your front yard?
  • Make threats against your child while she is alone in her bedroom? Of course not.

Today’s technology means you have to parent your child in both the real world and the virtual world, and that takes work and perseverance.

Bottom line: be aware, be involved, and be educated.

If you or your child has been victimized by an online crime, make a report to the FBI.

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You can file an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.

Editor’s note: Thank you to the Oregon FBI