CLEAR WATER, Wis. (WEAU) – As newer generations of children continue to grow up, the presence of the internet is becoming more and more part of their daily lives.
“We’ve seen the last several years youth that have become kind of comfortable and desensitized with sharing private information and images on the internet,” says Officer Jeff Baumgartner.
Jeff Baumgartner is an officer with the Altoona police department, and a grandfather, who has seen some of the warning signs of internet misuse among children firsthand.
“When children start becoming protective of their electronic devices, maybe they are always hiding their device and making sure that, you know, nobody can see their phones,” he said. “A change in behavior, you know, if they’ve kind of withdrawn from their friends and family and become maybe focusing more on using their phone to talk to people.”
With Baumgartner, early and established communication and trust between parent and child are key to preventing internet dangers.
“It’s important for parents to teach your kids that the parents are going to have access to those devices, and just make it normal for the parents to just routinely take a look at them,” he said. “You know, it’s it doesn’t mean a lack of trust, but it’s I think it’s just good parenting to be paying attention to what your kids are doing.”
Altoona parents Robert and Elizabeth Chanell have found success using safety strategies like these with their children.
“My wife is all about scheduling and I would say keep the computer in the living space and not in the bedroom,” said Robert Chanell. “We believe in checking the history and making sure they’re not looking at things that are going to be detrimental to them.”
“With my own children, I have to tell them all the time, you guys, if there’s an ad, you need to skip the ads,” said Elizabeth Chanell.
While the internet can be helpful, Elizabeth Chanell says, “The internet should not be used as a babysitter.”
The Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce released a guide to help parents who fear their children may be using the internet in an unsafe way.
We have more tips on how to stay safe here.
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