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More screen time gives online predators more opportunity

More children are online right now, using virtual classrooms and playdates to stay connected, but it has also put some children at risk.

Experts say children spending more time online creates more opportunities for predators.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said they’ve seen an increase in reports of suspect child sexual exploitation cases. These range from asking children to send explicit photos and videos to building an online relationship with a child.

The goal in some of these cases is to convince the child to meet the abuser in person.

Law enforcement has seen increased chatter among online predators on the dark web.

“They’re sharing ideas and sharing knowledge with each other on how to exploit, how to groom, how to entice children online because they know there is a spike in that screen time for children,” said Callahan Walsh with The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The center recommends parents set up screens in areas where they can see what their child is doing. They also say to limit screen time, approve apps and games for younger kids, keep your computer in the family room and be wary if they change the screen when you look, and communicate. Kids should feel comfortable to tell you what is going on.

RESOURCES

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

FBI: School Closings Due to COVID-19 Present Potential for Increased Risk of Child Exploitation

Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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