Protecting kids online this summer

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Summer is here and your kids may are already be bored and constantly on their electronic devices — making them more vulnerable than ever to online predators.

Norfolk FBI Special Agent in Charge Martin Culbreth told it is extremely difficult to catch these predators, and yet that division is one of the most active for arrests.

One in seven young people online report receiving unwanted sexual solicitations. Culbreth has seen lives ruined.

“We all had some moment where we lost that innocence of youth and to see them lose it this way is one of the worst things that can ever happen.”

The predators could be anywhere. Your child likely doesn’t know them.

“They want to be the ones to say, ‘Oh, I know exactly what you’re going through.'”

Document: How to protect your kids online

So how do you fight this enemy you can’t see? Culbreth says, “Have [your kids] show you their online profile, walk through it, look at who they’re meeting, have them talk to you about the new friends they’ve met online.”

Prevention is your best weapon. For parents, that means talking to your kids often, paying attention to their moods and vulnerable times. Kids and teens, before you text or send anything, think, “Is this something I would want my mom to see?”

“I know there are apps that say, ‘Hey, it erases’ and stuff like that, but there are ways for people to capture that there are ways for people to exploit that information,” Culbreth said.

If you are a victim, agents want you to come forward and assure that you will not be treated like the criminal. They have lots of resources to help parents and kids be safe online.