PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)–With Florida schools closed for the rest of the school year, children are spending more time on their phones and on their computers. An increase in internet usage can leave children at a higher risk of engaging in dangerous online behavior. Online predators can also take advantage of knowing that more children are online.
“We have seen a slight uptick on that specific type of communication and we are monitoring it and we are conducting investigations based on the things that we see,” said Lt. J.R. Talamantez with the Panama City Beach Police Department.
Talamantez says discussions about online safety are crucial and should be happening daily. He says children should limit how much they put their faces online, as well as avoid chat rooms.
“Unless they know these people in real life, now is not the time to be making friends with people they don’t know,” Talamantez said.
Today, many online apps allow parents to monitor internet usage.
“If your child has an Apple phone, make sure ‘screen time’ is on, look at how much they’re on, look at what apps they’re using the most, just to see how long they’re plugged in,” Talamantez said.
Many children are also using Tik-Tok, one of the most popular apps being downloaded around the globe.
“When there’s that type of popularity, criminals are gonna be drawn to it because they know that’s what kids are wanting to do,” Talamantez said.
Talamantez recommends parents monitor their child’s privacy settings as well as what they’re posting.
“Some of the songs that the kids are dancing to seem a little bit okay, but they could have very vulgar language and sort of insinuate sexual behavior that they may not want their kids to be involved in,” Talamantez said.