State officials urge parents to talk to teens about online safety

MGN Online

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With nearly nine out of every 10 Florida teenager with access to a smartphone or tablet with internet access, state officials are asking parents to talk to their children about cyber safety this holiday season.

“With days off of school, many students will spend free time online,” state Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement. “Predators know this, and that is why I am asking parents to talk to their children about cyber safety this holiday season. Many children will receive smartphones, gaming consoles and other devices with Internet access as presents over the holidays, and with more ways to communicate online comes an increased risk of being targeted by a predator.”

Predators can also use online games with message boards or Internet conference call technology to pose as teenagers, said Bondi, who added that social media profiles and messaging apps also exposes teens to potential predators.

Bondi released the following tips for parents:

· Know every social media account and password, and check them regularly;
· Review the messages and pictures being shared by children;
· Remember predators will pose as teenagers online to build relationships with children and set up face-to-face meetings;
· Make sure GPS coordinates of pictures and other location information is not being shared;
· Set parameter for online activities, including time and location for internet use;
· Utilize filter features built into popular Internet browsers and software programs that block areas known to be inappropriate for children;
· Know the lingo used by teenagers in chat rooms, emails correspondence and text messages; and
· Talk to children regularly. Let them know it is unacceptable to meet a stranger who messages them online.

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