Teaching Cyber Safety – The Things You Might Not Know
iQ:smartparent’s Cyber Safety segment offers advice on topics such as what to do with “sexted” images you find on your kids’ phones and more.
From a young age, children are taught certain skills to keep themselves safe. Look both ways before crossing the street. Don’t go anywhere with strangers. Don’t stick your fingers in the electrical outlet. But what do they learn about cyber safety? How can children and students protect themselves from online predators, cyber bullies and revenge porn?
“Cyber-Safety: Privacy, Protection, and the Latest Laws Affecting Children and Families,” produced by WQED’s nationally distributed television program iQ:smartparent and webcast live (video below) on March 9, set out to provide parents, educators, students and children with that knowledge.
Alicia Kozakiewicz, a survivor of internet luring/abduction and child exploitation, shared her story in which an online predator groomed her to gain her trust, abducted her to another state and held her captive before she was rescued by the FBI. She stressed that what happened to her could happen to anyone if they didn’t practice cyber safety, and she urged parents to set boundaries and monitor what their children do online.
Megan Galloway and Kelsey Meacham, data analysts with the Allegheny County Police Department, demonstrated how easy it is to learn intimate details about people from their social media by looking up WQED Producer Gina Catanzarite’s Facebook page. From pictures and comments, they discovered Catanzarite’s husband’s name and that their two sons were adopted from Russia.
“Little pieces of information, we just puzzle them together to get intimate details of your life,” said Meacham. “We know from experience that this is how bad people do it too, unfortunately; they use these same techniques.”
Steven Dish, a detective in the Allegheny County Police Department Child Abuse /Sex Assault Unit, educated the audience on current ‘sexting’ laws and take-down services that remove sexually explicit images taken or shared without consent. His advice for parents who find ‘sexted’ images on their children’s phone or devices? “Save it, don’t send it and turn the device into the police.” Dish explained that parents will often panic and send the images to their devices, but what that means is they’ve now shared the image and can be charged with distributing child pornography.
Niki Conaway from Mount Lebanon brought her two daughters, Nora and Tessa, to the event because she felt that the face to face conversation with cyber victims and experts, and the ability to ask them questions, would help drive home the importance of cyber safety and literacy.
“I hope this experience makes them more aware that you can be a victim of cyber bullying, harassment and online predators,” says Conaway. “Social media can make you feel safe but hopefully this will open their eyes and cause them to be more aware of what can happen.”