COVID-19 is preventing many students around the world from returning to the classroom in-person this year. While this may not be the school year anyone envisioned for their children, it is important to make the most of it by protecting children's well-being.
One important way to protect a child's well-being is to guard their online activity, especially if they will be online for class all day, every day. The National Center on Missing and Exploited Children saw a 93% increase in reports of online enticement of children by predators in the first half of 2020, compared to the first half of 2019.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has laid out three steps to protect your kids from online exploitation, especially during this time of virtual learning:
1. Be Aware. Make it your priority to have awareness of online risks and how to mitigate threats to your child's safety. Know what websites your children visit and all the risks associated with them.
2. Set Boundaries. Boundaries are essential for online safety. Whether your children are using their own tech or school-issued devices, it is important that you set up appropriate internet filters and parental controls.
3. Communicate. Having consistent, open communication is key to keeping your children safe during all their online learning, playing and socializing. Kids are more likely to help protect themselves if they understand what they are watching for and know exactly what to do if confronted with something or someone dangerous.