FBI warns potential for increased risk of child exploitation

Local

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) Your children are likely to use a computer, phone, or tablet more right now as they take classes online, play games, and use social media.

The FBI wants parents to keep a close eye on internet use because there could be an increased risk of child exploitation due to schools being closed from COVID-19.

That’s why the federal agency is offering recommendations for parents and guardians to keep their kids from becoming a victim:

  • Discuss internet safety
  • Take a look at the games and apps they want before they’re downloaded
  • Set strict privacy setting on accounts and devices
  • Keep devices in an open, common space in your home

“It’s not about privacy it is about protection. We are in a society now that people are sharing more information about their lives with the world than they ever have and that’s a great thing. It can be a great thing but it can also be dangerous if you don’t really know who you are talking to and then you have people who have criminal intentions who then try to befriend your children,” said Shelley Lynch, Public Affairs Specialist, FBI Charlotte Division.

The FBI says online sexual exploitation can happen in many different ways.

Predators may sometimes contact children or teens online, gain their trust, and then have them engage in inappropriate relationships and actions.

“Do spot checks to see who they’re talking to if they know who they’ve been talking to. If you have people your child is following on social media or people following your child on a social media account, have a conversation with them. Have they met this person in real life and if they haven’t it’s time to delete that person from the account,” said Lynch

The FBI is encouraging families to use the federal Safe Online Surfing website. This resource teaches kids how to safely navigate the web.

The FBI is also encouraging families to teach their children about personal boundaries and let them know that anyone who asks a child to do anything explicit online should be reported.

If you suspect any online child exploitation, you can contact your local FBI field office and police department.

For a full list of the FBI’s recommendation check out this tweet:

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