SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – During the COVID-19 pandemic, children and teens are exposed to more screen time with stay-at-home orders and remote learning from home. Experts say this leads to heightened feelings of boredom and isolation, increasing the desire for social interaction — which predators are aware of. So how big of an issue is internet safety, what are the warning signs you can look for, and how do you have that conversation with your kids?
According to Chief Alan White, commander for the Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, approximately one in five minors will be sexually solicited nationwide. He believes the numbers may be higher in Utah, just because our state has a higher average amount of children. In 2020, his agency investigated 1,249 cases, made 215 arrests, and examined 338 TB worth of data.
Chief White and Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, founder and CEO of Digital Respons-Ability, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. In part one, they explained why parents need to be thinking about this subject, how susceptible young people are to online predators, the likelihood of children being solicited by an online predator, their typical methodologies, the most recent data and trends on internet crimes, and the impact of the pandemic on these crimes.
In part two, they shared what their agencies do to maintain online safety for children, how parents can help minimize the amount of misinformation and conspiracy theories that their children digest, and concerns that may come from the online gaming arena.
In part three, Chief White and Rogers-Whitehead discussed how they look at these issues through the lens of a parent, how parents can approach these conversations with their kids, and the red flags or warning signs parents should look out for.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Chief White and Rogers-Whitehead, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.