By Officer Larry Jacobs

It’s nearly impossible to survive without the Internet these days.  The Internet offers unlimited opportunities for sending pictures to friends, building online profiles, broadcasting what you’re doing, researching anything, emailing and anything else you can imagine.

For kids, it can be a dangerous place.

According to www.onguardonline.gov, socializing and communicating can be fulfilling, but there are several certain risks.

1)  Inappropriate conduct: The online world can feel anonymous and kids sometimes forget that they are still accountable for their actions.

2)  Inappropriate contact:  Some people online have bad intentions, including bullies, predators, hackers and scammers.

3)  Inappropriate content:  You may be concerned that your kids could find pornography, violence or hate speech online.

What can you do?  Start early at a young age as soon as your child starts using a computer, cellphone or any other communication device.  Make sure to create an honest, open environment.  Your children look to their parents to help guide them.  Make sure you are being supportive. Make sure to initiate conversations.

Some terms you should get familiar with are:

Sexting – Sending or forwarding sexually explicit photos, videos or messages from a mobile device.

Cyberbulling – Bullying or harassment that happens online.  It can be in an email, text message, an online game or comments on a social networking site.

Phishing – Is when scam artists sent text, email or pop-up messages to get people to share their personal and/or financial information.

Texting – Any child with a cellphone can use it to send and receive text messages and images.

P2P File Sharing – Kids share music, games or software online.  Peer – to peer (P2P) file sharing allows people to share these kinds of files.

More information on this can be found at www.onguardonline.gov.

Officer Larry Jacobs is the Crime Prevention Officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department.  He can be reached directly at ljacobs@sandyspringsga.gov.

 

 

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