FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - After a 13-year-old Florence girl was kidnapped after meeting a 19-year-old online, her grandparents are urging other parents to monitor their child’s social media. For parents, their number one job is to protect their children.
Investigator Joshua Casson with non-profit crisis service center One Place of the Shoals said two things parents should protect children from are social media and internet dangers.
“It’s at their fingertips, anybody can come into that smartphone, can come into that computer,” said Casson.
Patrick Caver is a social media expert and attorney who teaches families about the dangers of social media.
“All it takes is one time and if you miss a conversation for more than two or three days you don’t know what’s been said,” said Caver. “It’s like giving a handgun to a child and telling them to go play. I mean it’s that dangerous giving a child a cellphone without actually monitoring the child,” said Caver.
He said monitoring your children’s social media is a must because many people prey on children. One study shows 40 percent of kids in grades 4-8 reported they connected or chatted online with a stranger.
“A person that really wants to do something bad to your children can ask about 10 simple questions and find out where your child lives at,” said Caver.
Caver says since the pandemic, sites like Discord and Omegle Chat have reappeared. He said Discord is common with kids who are gamers so parents must intervene.
“Just see who they are talking to, who their friends are. If you don’t recognize a name, if an app pops up like Discord and you say ‘what is this?’ make them explain it to you,” said Caver.
And for those children who have been victims, Investigator Casson said the first step is telling someone.
“The big thing is talk about it. Let someone know and that can get the healing process started. Whether it be through us or a private counseling system,” said Casson.
They both say the best thing is to form an open line of communication with your child about their social media.