Keeping children safe online is an ever changing challenge

(WDTN Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) –  From smartphones to watches to apps the electronics kids have access to can be scary for any parent.

That’s why 2 NEWS is teaming up with local leaders to launch a CyberSafe Parent Program on Dayton’s CW.

Being a parent in 2017 often means navigating technology.

Amber Cristofaro is the mother of two sons. “When I was a kid it was stranger danger and you had to be careful who you talked to and all of those kinds of things but now it’s more who are you talking to online? Is this a person you know in real life? You have all these other questions that are coming up,” Cristofaro said.

Amber Cristofaro’s two young boys use the family computer or tablets to play games.

“Even if a game is for kids, sometimes the ads that pop up aren’t kid-friendly,” said Cristofaro.

Which is why Amber says being conscious of their online activity is so important. Much harder to do when many kids and teenagers have their own smartphone.

“One of the biggest problems i see is taking the selfies and sexting,” said Investigator Kerry Smoot. Smoot is with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office and says teenagers don’t always think about the future or that what they’re sending could be illegal.

“What you do online can always be looked up in the future your prospective college and job opportunities might be affected by that,” Smoot said.

In addition, GPS can make it easier for people to track your child down based on the pictures they post.

Smoot continued, “You also want to check those privacy settings you want to make them strict so that you’re not sharing that information out.”

But a new, even scarier concept, apps disguised as something else serving as a secret vault for pictures or messages.

“So if parents ever see something they’re not familiar with on their child’s phone to research that app what it looks like you can pull it up, in the app store or on those websites and be able to see exactly what that app is,” Smoot said.

Cristofaro said, “I’m not sure as quickly as technology progresses, that there is a way for them to monitor everything and that’s where parents come in. You have to make sure your kids are being smart.”

Police say it is up to the parents to educate themselves about the tools available. 2 NEWS has gathered a number of tips and information for you to do that. You can find that information on our CyberSafe Parent Program web page.

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