It's no secret that technology has tremendously evolved over the past decade. David Ferris, section chief of Cyber Crime Unit with the Louisiana Department of Justice, encourages parents to have open discussions with their children about internet safety.
On what parents should be on the look-out for when their children use the internet
The internet, itself, is not what you need to afraid of. Computers are not what you need to be afraid of. Computers are an inanimate object and the internet is a great thing, but it can also be a very dangerous thing. If we aren’t properly monitoring what our children are doing online, that thing [internet] that can be used for amazing things can also be used for some very evil things.
As a parent, you need to understand what your kids are doing online. It’s a really hard situation for parents to navigate. When we grew up it was, “Hey mom or dad, how do I stop the VCR from blinking?”, not “How do I work Kik and FaceTime?” The first suggestion I would give is to have an understanding of the apps that your children are using and what they’re capable of doing on them.
On how parents can make their children aware of potential dangers of the internet
There’s no silver bullet. You know your child. You know when it’s the right time to speak to your child. You know the maturity level of your child. What I will say is this: if you don’t have the conversation you don’t get to decide who influences your children with providing that information to them.
When we were growing up we were always told to watch out for the guy in the park with the trench coat. We were taught to be careful of “stranger danger” type things. If kids aren’t in the park anymore, why would predators go to the park to look for children? Kids have moved to the internet and so have predators.
On what parents can do if they suspect danger for their children
The first thing I suggest is to have conversations with your child. You can’t expect to have an open, honest relationship if it’s a one-time thing. You need to have a regular conversation – open those doors of communication. You think there’s something going on in their phone? Take their phone and take a look at it. You can always contact us if something doesn’t look right to you. We’d be glad to sit down and talk to you as a parent to investigate the issue.
If parents suspect anything, they can call the Louisiana Department of Justice at 1-800-256-4506. From there, you can go to our website which is agjefflandry.com and you can contact us through there as well. We’ll be more than happy to help. If you feel that it is an emergency, call 911.