With the end of the school year days away, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is offering parents and young people some basic tips for online safety during the summer months.
"With the school year coming to an end, we realize young people will have more free time for social networking and other online activities so it's a perfect time to have a conversation with your children," said Marlon Miller, HSI special agent in charge. "We want to arm parents and young people with some very basic tips to keep them safe online. Following some of these fundamental practices can mean the difference between falling victim to an online predator and staying safe and avoiding any undue emotional or physical harm."
TIPS FOR PARENTS:
- Talk to children about Internet predators and whether they have ever been approached online. Visit Netsmartz.org for conversation starters on a variety of topics.
- Keep the computer in a common area of the house, but don't forget that online technology is also available on cell phones, laptops, tablets, and gaming devices.
- Set limits for what sites can be visited and have them show you what sites they are frequently visiting.
- Recognize signs of victimization and grooming: if your child has become withdrawn and isolated from friends and family, you find inappropriate material on the computer or mobile device, or if your child is communicating or receiving money or gifts from an unknown person.
- Ask them to tell you if anything makes them feel scared, confused or uncomfortable. Let them know that online sexual exploitation of children is a crime and that it should be reported to law enforcement.
- Encourage them to report cyber bulling, not just when it happens to them but when they see others being bullied as well.
TIPS FOR KIDS:
- Never share pictures of yourself online that you wouldn't want seen by your family, teachers or a total stranger.
- Don't respond to offensive content and don't forward images or info that might hurt or embarrass someone.
- Don't accept friend requests from strangers. Change your passwords regularly so strangers can't find you.
- Set user profile to private so only real friends can get access. Know who you're chatting with – a "friend" is not always a friend.
- Don't share personal information online like your full name, school, address or phone number, or user passwords.
- Remember that anything posted online lives on forever and can be shared with anyone anywhere in the world.
- Stop the harassment. Treat people online as you would in person and don't be mean or rude. Report cyber bullying to a trusted adult.
- Tell an adult if someone makes you feel uncomfortable by their actions or words. If you suspect online "stalking," sexual exploitation, or other suspicious behavior, report it to law enforcement.
- Don't meet up in person with anyone you met online.
- Check your privacy settings on social media sites frequently, as they can reset due to site updates.