Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center hosts internet safety event – KLTV

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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – As technology is continuing to dominate our world with social media and online gaming, it’s increasingly difficult to keep children safe while using internet-capable devices.

The Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center hosted an event in Winnsboro for East Texas parents to learn more about keeping their children safe in a technology-driven world.

Caitlin Graham, community education coordinator for the center, says at this event they focused on “knowing your child’s online friends.”

“They used to teach kids there is the creepy guy in the white van and don’t talk to them, don’t go near them, don’t accept candy, don’t help him find his puppy. But now, we give them a phone and we put the strangers in their pocket. They have that device, that phone, those video games, that tablet and we’re giving them direct access to every stranger in the world,“ Graham said.

According to Pew Research Center, teenagers in the U.S. ages 13 to 18 spend on average over 4.5 hours on social media per day.

Winnsboro Police Chief Ryan Brown says that’s how long your child is susceptible to coming in contact with a dangerous person.

“We do have problems as a region, have issues with kids online that are not so sure who they are talking to. Sometimes people can make fake profiles and mask themselves as someone they may know, and it turns into something where they are sending personal information or photos of themselves. That information is out there, then a lot of times it can’t come back,” Brown said.

Graham says parents should ask their children about the technology they use and who they communicate with, utilize online protection tools but don’t rely solely on them, establish boundaries and enforce them, keep chargers in common areas of a household, and don’t be afraid to say no.

“If we don’t know about the problem, it’s easy to sweep it under the rug. But the more we talk about it, the more we bring awareness to it and that’s where there can be accountability for it and say, ‘yes this problem exists and now that we know about it, what can we do?’” Graham said.

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