security against online child predators in tampa bay

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security against online child predators in tampa bay

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t‘s happening all the time.  All sorts of cyber crimes are becoming increasingly common. Most concerning, it seems every day another story about an online child predator is on the national broadcast news.  Particularly in regards to children, cyber-security and internet privacy issues must be brought to the forefront. Parents need think and act like a detective or private investigator to monitor their child’s internet use and adequately protect them.

 

Understandably, children need a certain degree of freedom in their social lives.  There is clearly a difference between using discreet surveillance to casually monitor their social network interactions, and stifling their ability to learn and grow in our technologically oriented world.  Digital communications and social networking are now the norm, rather than the exception and parents need to adjust accordingly.

Unfortunately, too many parents feel they need to allow their children far too much freedom.  Now, more than ever, parents must make a concerted effort to keep open lines of communication and set reasonable boundaries.  Nationally, and in the Tampa Bay area, online child predators are very real, often very intelligent, and extremely diligent in their pursuit of children to abuse.  Far too often, many parents neglect to discuss the perils of online predators with their children.

What are parents to do?  Are there certain affirmative steps we can take to protect our children from the omnipresent online child predator?  Absolutely.  Let’s start with a few common sense safety tips and remember, social media access is not a right, but a privilege that you allow:

  • Your child should never have a social media account that you do not have complete access to. Parents need to have all log-in information and check the accounts regularly.
  • Always take a few minutes to monitor your child’s cell phone invoice. Are there repeated calls to or from numbers that you don’t recognize? Are there numbers from a different area code or state?
  • Consider taking away the phone at bedtime. Late night communication is always a danger. Get them an inexpensive clock if they complain that they need the phone as an alarm clock.
  • Review the text messages on their cell phone…it’s your right and responsibility.
  • Consider downloading a GPS app so you can monitor the location of their phone from your phone. There are many available.
  • Consider downloading a “Spyware App” that allows you to surreptitiously help monitor your child’s online social media interactions. They can be installed on computers and can send you an alert if a suspicious person contacts your child through, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or others.
  • Contact your school to see if they provide training sessions to inform the students about the dangers of online social interactions.  If not, see if they might start.
  • Keep a list of contact information for the parents of your child’s friends.  Follow up and call to make sure they are where they said they will be, and of course, never let them leave the house without knowing who, what and where.
  • For younger children, make sure they know your full names and phone numbers in case they get lost in order to assist the police in getting them home.
  • Make sure the youngsters know they are not to do whatever an adult tells them to do, or go wherever an adult says to go…even if they know them.
  • Teach your child that it is fine to say no to an adult, and it fine to cause a loud scene if they are uncomfortable or feel they are in danger.
  • Make sure you have ample current photos of your child on your phone particularly if you are going to a large amusement park or mall that day.

These are just a few suggestions that you should consider.  It is critical that no matter what their age, don’t be resistant to monitoring your child’s actions.  You are the adult in the equation and must be very proactive to protect your child in the increasingly complex, technological world in which we live.  Don’t hesitate to think, and act, like an investigator which includes using surveillance of your child’s online and cell phone activities.

If you have any concerns or questions about your child’s social media participation, or the people they may be interacting with, consider contacting a licensed, experienced private investigator in your area.  In the Tampa Bay area, contact Top Gun Investigations TopGunInvestigations.com or call 813-902-0420 for a free consultation and additional strategies that can provide you with the answers and peace of mind you need.