GBI offers advice to keep children safe online as internet crimes rise

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga., (WSAV)- According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, internet crimes against children are on the rise. 

The GBI said this year they expect to receive around 6,000 tips on crimes related to child exploitation, which includes crimes committed online. This number is up from almost 4,000 last year.

Scott Scheidt, Director of Center for Applied Cyber Education at Georgia Southern University said it’s important for parents and their kids to have good cyber hygiene so children can know how to surf the web safely.

“Sitting in the same room with a youth or a young child, we think they’re in the room with us, so they’re safe they’re okay. We’ve got them in an environment we can control, but have no idea who they’re actually talking to on their device,” Scheidt explained. 

Scheidt said not knowing who your child is talking to can be scary, so he’s encouraging parents to teach their children the concept of ‘stranger danger’ and who not to chat with online. 

He also said parents need to know about the different apps on their children’s devices. Some such as a secret calculator app can seem harmless, but if a child shares information with the wrong person online, it can become dangerous.

“Youth can use that to hide files, videos, pictures. Or, adults could use that to hide pictures of youth or other nefarious things that they’re looking for,” Scheidt said.

Scheidt noted parents looking into the safety features included in some apps.

“Kind of at least set a time limit for how long they can be on apps. There are features on many phones and online that allow you to block data, allow you to not allow certain apps to allow locations,” Schedit said.

He added parents should consider limiting how much they post about their child online because social media makes it easier for strangers to access their information. 

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