Online Safety Tips for Teenagers: #NowMattersL8R

Recent arrests for child pornography in St. Martin parish have parents concerned about their children’s safety online. Through a recent study in Acadiana, 58% of teenagers admitted to communicating with adults online they don’t know. Remember teaching children about stranger danger? Remember telling them not to accept anything or not to go anywhere with an adult that they didn’t know? “These adults are setting up fake pages and they are communicating with our children," Val Senegal, the Education Director said. “They are getting these nude photographs, these sexually explicit videos from our own children’s hands a lot of times.”

Now more than ever is it important for parents to have that difficult conversation with their children about what’s appropriate behavior on the Internet. Sexting, while illegal, has become a common practice among teenagers who are dating. This practice of sending nude photos to each other is deemed as a “safe alternative” to the act of having sex. These nude photos (and videos) get shared, screenshot, posted here and there across the pornography industry, which is a billion dollar market. “These images are constantly being sold in the pornography industry.”

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Here are seven tips to keep your teen safe as they use their cellphone, ipad and social media account

1) Set parental controls on every electronic they use. Do not give them any of parental passcodes; they will use it to circumvent your rules.

2)  Do not allow them to take their cellphone with them in the bathroom. Tell them to think carefully before posting pictures or videos of themself. Once they’ve put  a picture of themself online, most people will see it and may be able to download it. Nude selfies are against the law!

3) Keep all social media accounts set as a “private” account. Unless they are a celebrity or public figure, they do not need a public account for anyone to view what they post.

4) Remind them to NEVER give out their passwords to anyone, not even their "bestie". Many children are friends today and enemies tomorrow and many have gotten into trouble for cyberbullying or sexting by allowing their “friends” to use their account who was the real culprit of the crime.

5) Do not accept friend requests or follower requests from people they have not actually met in real life.

6) Do not arrange to meet up with people you've met online.

7) If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried, block or delete the person. Then, report it to you, a school resource officer, local law enforcement or school official. Save all evidence by taking a screenshot of what the person posts or messages.

Click HERE for Spread of Child Pornography through Social Media warning

THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY THE HEARTS OF HOPE EDUCATION DIRECTOR, VAL SENEGAL.