Kids' free time in summer can lead to online trouble

Homeland Security Investigator offers advice to parents to keep children safe

DETROIT – Summer time means our children have a lot more free time to have fun, hang out with friends and play games. However, it also means that they have more time to spend online with their computers, tablets and mobile devices.

Matthew Stentz, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations tells Local 4 parents need to know who their children are interacting with online.

"As parents, take steps to, you know, monitor the behavior of your children when they're online," Stentz said.

The National Cyber Security Alliance said to teach children to share with care when they're online, which includes pictures and personal or private details about their lives. Children should be nice online and treat others as they want to be treated. They should not react or retaliate if someone is mean to them in the cyber world.

"If it’s something that you might be embarrassed about, then don't post it," Stentz said.

And they should never meet online strangers in person.

"Just like we tell kids, don't talk to strangers when they're on the street at a very young age, the same advice is very applicable and even more so when you're talking about online relationships," Stentz said.

Parents should know which apps their children are using and check the privacy settings.  They should also be location savvy and make sure apps that share locations with family and friends don't get into the wrong hands.

As for video games, parents should also check the ratings and reviews and if their kids are playing with other players online, make sure they know not to give out personal information.