Internet safety for children is paramount

We live in a world where access to information, people and places is available with the touch of a button. The internet and modern technology are incredible resources and also incredible burdens.

Many children have access to technology from the time they are just toddlers. It starts with playing with moms’ or dads’ phone or tablet, and continues on to the teen and sometimes pre-teen years when boys and girls are often given their own hand-held devices. Children may have access to this kind of technology for many different reasons, but no matter what the situation education is a critical factor to making sure this technology is used safely.

A terrifying and unsettling story inside today’s Post-Record illustrates exactly why.

According to police, Camas resident Zachary William Akers, 20, was arrested last month and charged with a handful of felonies. He allegedly befriended several young girls via Facebook, and then threatened to expose to family and friends the private messages and compromising photographs they had sent to him, unless they agreed to send more lewd photos and videos or meet him to have sexual relations.

Fortunately, Akers was caught. But detectives believe that there are more of his victims out there.

So how can parents keep their children safe? The Vancouver Police Department recommends that parents closely monitor their child’s use of the internet, particularly social media and online communication platforms such as Facebook, Kik, WhatsApp and Skype. And, talk to children about appropriate and inappropriate content, and what to do if they are approached online.

There are many free software programs that allow parents to block inappropriate content from their children using filtering and monitoring software. Some include Qustodio and K9 Web Protection.

Resources for information about internet safety include www.netsmartz.org and http://safetynet.aap.org.

It is often easy to be complacent when it comes to restricting and closely monitoring children’s internet access, but we unfortunately live in a world where this kind of strict oversight is not only recommended, but required.

Please review our community guidelines