Utah AG’s Office reminds parents about internet safety

Local News

Ages five to 12 are the most susceptible to online predators.

As June rolls around marking the end of school and the beginning of Internet Safety Month, authorities have a reminder for parents to closely monitor their child’s internet usage.

“I think the day of free innocent internet if you will are over,” said Richard Piatt, Communications Director for the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

With the click of a mouse and the tap of some keystrokes, a child can find themselves in some serious danger.

“There’s a lot of people out there that are trying to trick adults and especially children,” said Piatt.

The biggest risks include cyberbullying with almost 34% of children from 12 to 17 being a victim with 11.5% cyberbullying someone else.

There’s also the exposure to inappropriate content from hate speech to sexually explicit images, but one of the most concerning remains online predators enticing children for sexual exploitation.

“They’re in chatrooms posing as children or they’re outright aggressive with the kids in wanting to actually meet them,” said Piatt.

On Tuesday ABC4 spoke to the Utah Attorney General’s Office about online safety.

It’s in preparation for June which is Internet Safety Month.

“A lot of kids may not realize the danger they’re in until it’s too late, and they send a picture and then that picture is used as blackmail,” said Piatt.

According to a new 2019 SafeWise internet safety guide for kids, 78% of girls have been targeted by an online predator. It’s while 82% of online predators are male. The guide says 98% of these predators have never met their child targets in real life.

“Kids need to know that they can go to an adult so the parents need to empower that relationship so they can go for help if they need it,” said Piatt.

In addition, SafeWise recommends controlling digital cameras and photo apps on your child’s device.

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