Keep Kids Safe: Online Safety
Pennsylvania is taking action to Keep Kids Safe.
A campaign by the state Department of Human Services is raising awareness to issues affecting our youth. Today, we're talking about online safety.
We live in a world where technology is constantly at our fingertips. Adults often fall victim to scams or identity theft, but for kids, there are even more dangerous threats online.
Statistics show, on average, children aged five to 16, spend six-and-a-half hours a day in front of a screen, exposing them to online dangers. "An extension of some of those dangers would be cyber bulling, sexting or sending sexually explicit messages, photos, and of course online predators that are out there too," said Jack Ogden, Assistant to the Director of Safe Kids Erie.
Before joining Safe Kids Erie, Ogden worked for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, investigating cybercrimes. He says parents need to take a pro-active approach to their child's online safety.
When it comes to social media or online gaming, Ogden says parents should set up their child's privacy settings, so parents can control who is contacting their kid. Also, consider turning off their location settings so they can't be tracked by advertisers or predators. "It's important for them (parents) to understand that there are real dangers out there, and they would want to keep their kids protected from strangers in the real world. It's also important to keep them protected from strangers online," said Ogden.
Lawmakers are getting involved in the issue as well. A federal law, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, makes it illegal to collect personal information from children under 13.
The law also allows parents to reach out to a company if they think their child has been exposed." They're allowed to obtain information about what's going on with their child," said Patty Puline, Director of Safe Kids Erie. "Parents can request the person's name, 'I want to know who reached out to them, I want you to investigate this, and I want it to stop'."
Ogden says bottom line, when online, just make sure you're protecting your and your child's personal information. "Especially for a child, but any consumer really, protecting your personal information is important to avoid scams; identity theft, things like that," said Ogden. "But for children, whenever you're on social media, adjust those privacy settings so you're not giving away your identity, you're not giving away that personal information to predators is something that is key," Ogden continued.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are also taking cyber bullying and cyber harassment more seriously. Just a few years ago, state lawmakers passed House Bill 229. It focuses on punishing those who put some sort of seriously disparaging statement against a child, online.