Software Can Help Protect Children From Internet Dangers, But Parents Must Be Involved
One in seven children between the ages of 10 and 17 are sexually solicited on the internet. That's according to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
"The dangers are there," says Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott. "When they're left alone, to wander all over the internet, you never know what's going to happen."
Sheriff Scott say with the advancement of technology, his office sees more cases of predators targeting children online through a variety of sources including social media and chat rooms.
"There's a lot of software out there that's going to help you monitor what's going on with the kids," says Scott.
CrimeTracker10's Angela An found several online programs that promise to protect your child while on the internet. Some block out explicit photos while others filter out specific words related to porn or bullying. There are also programs that help parents limit the amount of time a child spends online to tracking words typed onto a keyboard and which users visit which websites.
Those are the filters Sheriff Scott recommends parents look for when shopping for the right software to protect their family.
"That's just to help augment some of your safety measures that you're putting into place," explains the sheriff. "It's not the thing that you're going to use as the silver bullet that's going to take care of everything."
Sheriff Scott warns parents that they shouldn't turn to internet software protection programs as their catch-all.
"You got to get involved, you got to talk to the kids, you got to get on the web with kids," Scott emphasized. "You got to inform the kids what's going on, they need to inform you what's going on AND still use the software."
But this new technology can be frightening for some parents, who don't understand how social media operates. Sheriff Scott says parents can use that fear and turn it around to their benefit.
"Children like to teach," he says. "So if they have the opportunity to teach a parent, they're going to say -- well, this is how it works, this is what a profile is... this is how you do a password."
Not only are parents educated, but Sheriff Scott says parents can see what their kids are doing without feeling like they're snooping.
With 70 percent of a child's internet activity taking place in the home, Scott believes that's where the best line of defense should begin.