KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Social media: it’s a common way for predators to gain access to unsuspecting users, especially young ones.
“My six-year-old plays Minecraft,” said cyber expert Rob Wille. “He goes into these other worlds and there are people playing and they, a lot of times, will try to contact him.”
That’s why experts say parents should extend protective measures to their kids’ electronics.
“Use a family app,” explained Wille. “Not only do I use these apps, but I let them know that I’m using them. The more my child is aware I am aware of what they’re doing, their behavior is going to be curtailed to that.”
When it comes to red flags, there are plenty for parents to look for.
“Something that has just not been tested, that’s not been downloaded very much,’ Wille told WATE. “I’d say the chat feature is one thing that parents, especially, and teens have to be aware about.”
Trying to tell who’s a friend and who’s not? Wille suggests asking questions only true friends and family members would know the answers to.
“What classes do we have together? Asking some more of that personal information that an outsider wouldn’t be able to garner.”
“As parents, we have to be careful what we post on social media, on Facebook,” said Wille. “If a child says oh what school do I go to and you just posted a picture of your child in front of their middle school sign for the first day of school, that bad actor would already have that information.”
When it comes to being asked for anything on social media, Wille says the best answer is usually “no.”
“We’ve trained our society and trained our kids to always just say yes, to accept everything. Unfortunately, that accepting sort of culture also opens the doorway for people who want to do bad things.”
Back in 2019, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, which is based in Florida, released a document called “21 Apps Parents Should Know About.” Although it has been over three years since that document was released, Wille says it is still applicable today.
In addition to monitoring what apps your children are using, Wille suggests changing parental codes on various devices at least once a month.