Your child’s online safety

(WSPA) – As a parent, it’s hard to keep up with the speed of change on the internet and the new dangers facing children.

In this 7NEWS consumer exclusive, we’ve looked at the latest trends and warnings about your child’s online safety, as well as providing state-of-the-art solutions, so you can have peace of mind.

Spartanburg’s Heidi Witthuhn loves using her online platforms to spread positive messages, but at 16 she’s already well versed in the dark side of social media

“The fun thing about social media that I’ve found the most is that the younger you are, the more they’ll come for you,” Witthuhn said.

It’s something Rick Floyd, with Greenville County School’s Information Security, saw with his own eyes back when law enforcement was catching predators.

“The added dangers of when I was chatting undercover is that when I was, there were conversations and no money, no offers, no gifts,” Floyd said. “But now these kids can give gifts, they can earn money without leaving their room, and that’s an incentive for kids.”

Floyd said predators have even helped teenagers set up online money transfer accounts. He warns that many inappropriate requests are coming in as teenagers livestream on sites like TikTok.

“When I first joined TikTok, I had so many weird browsers looking for me, wanting me to add them and do things and everything and I was like ‘Mom help!’ Because they were ruining my TikTok For You page, and I was just like, ick,” Witthuhn said.

Women are not the only targets.

“I’ve had several occasions where people were looking for sugar babies, if you know what I mean, like older women or maybe even guys with fake women’s accounts coming up to me and asking me to send them pictures,” Thomas Tramaglia, in Greenville, said.

Then there are dangers that many children and parents don’t even know exist.

Sites like Instagram and Snapchat reveal your precise location unless you proactively disable it.

INSTRUCTION ON HOW TO STOP IT PRECISE LOCATION

Witthuhn showed us how Snapchat’s street view revealed his emoji in the exact aisle we were in during our interview.

“If they zoom in enough, they can see where you live because it actually shows pictures of your house,” Witthuhn said.

So how does a parent best monitor a child’s phone? It takes a multi-step approach:

  • third-party monitoring apps
  • configuration of parental controls via your operator
  • schedule your wireless router to mute a child’s phone at a certain time

Witthuhn’s mom told us she uses the free monitoring app, Google Family Link.

Not only does he set time limits and track location, but he also filters what his kids can do online, the apps they download, and the websites they need permission to access.

Whatever you do, Spartanburg mum Heather Whaldrep warns, don’t rely solely on checking the phone itself.

“We’re going to check her phone, but you have the Snapchat that can disappear, so if anyone says anything inappropriate then that’s it,” Heather Whaldrep said.

“It is sometimes dangerous. So I don’t think social media is the best,” Witthuhn said.

Witthuhn’s advice to parents, children who must earn their freedom online gain a healthy appreciation of the responsibility that comes with easy access to a world as vast as the Internet.

One more word of warning, there are even apps that disguise other apps or hide photos.

So, to prevent children from downloading them, it is better for parents to have exclusive access to username and password for downloads.

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