CyberSafe Parent: Protecting your children

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Parenting in the 21st century has taken on a whole new challenge.

That’s why FOX21 Local News Right Now is kicking off a new series: CyberSafe Parent.

According to research released by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, 1 in 12 children have exchanged messages with sexual content to other people.

Jacqueline Kirby, spokesperson for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, knows law enforcement has its hands full protecting our children.

“There’s a lot more things to be aware of,” Kirby said. “Before it was just what were your kids doing outside, where they are playing and what was happening at school.”

Unfortunately, with the virtual realm comes a dark world where perpetrators prey on the vulnerable — who in many cases are children.

Today’s threat is real and growing. Many of the problems come with that tool parents were hoping would keep their kids safe — the smart phone.

“Seventy-seven percent of kids have cell phones while 56 percent of elementary and middle school kids have phones,” Kirby explained. “It’s the added safety risks while they’re at home in their bed in their own home.”

That’s why Kirby suggests putting up boundaries and sticking to them.  Use your internet provider to block certain websites and make it a habit to monitor your children’s browsing history and place controls on their smart phone.

“They key is to stick with the perimeters and enforce them,” Kirby said. “The Sheriff’s Department sees these kind of cases all the kind. Predators prey on children usually at night when they’re on the phone surfing the internet in their room.

If parents need another reason to monitor their children on their phone, look at the numbers from the same 2016 research:

  • 1 in 12 children have exchanged messages with sexual content to other people and 1 in 25 have sent graphic photos of themselves, according to the study
  • 1 in 4 children — or 25 percent– get away with pretending to be older to get an account online
  • 1 in 20 children admitted arranging a secret meeting with someone they met online
  • 42.1 percent of kids admit they have seen online porn
  • Almost three in 10 parents (29 percent) let their kids use the internet without any restrictions or supervision

We’d like to hear from you and shed light on your stories or the concerns you have trying to protect your child while on the internet or phone.

Send us an email at News@FOX21News.com with the subject line “CyberSafe Story Idea.”

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