Cyber safety must remain priority in minds of parents

Parents can’t always be with their kids to watch out for them.

It’s always been that way, but the digital age is making their jobs even tougher. Even if they keep up with technology, often kids are more internet-savvy than their parents.

That’s why public talks from groups like the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force are so important. An agent with the task force as well as a Michigan State Police detective spoke earlier this week at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church of Harvey along with educators and church members, of the potential dangers from social media and cell phone use.

Since kids use cell phones and computers at a young age, it behooves parents to educate them as soon as possible.

Cyberbullying, for example, involves the use of texts and photos to belittle someone else.

It can be particularly harmful when young people are involved. Not only do the young cyberbullies lack the maturity to realize it’s wrong — not to mention they should know it’s just plain mean — the recipients of hurtful texts probably lack the maturity to deal with it as well.

Youngsters typically know all about passwords and privacy settings, but do parents? This is when a parent has to be the “bad guy” and take a hard stance on knowing what their kids are doing on various websites.

Earlier this year, an agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Homeland Security investigations gave a talk at Negaunee High School to parents about dangerous websites where adult predators can connect with unsuspecting teens, or younger.

Those websites include chatroulette and Kik Messenger.

The agent also appealed to kids, cautioning them to put their settings on private and refrain from conversing with someone they’ve never seen.

Events geared toward cyberbullying and internet safety are sorely needed, and they should continue as long as there are cell phones, computers — and youths. Predators and cyberbullies likely will always try to find new ways to inflict their harm on the world, and constant vigilance is necessary.