SAFETY ALERT: How to protect your child online

Now that the school year is over and summer is officially here, many kids will have some down time- and for some, that means more time on their phone or computers.

As a parent, you shouldn't just be asking yourself, 'do I know where my child is?' but rather, 'who is my child texting?' and 'what are they posting on social media?'

According to DoSomething.org, 43% of kids say they have been bullied online, most commonly through social media sites or text message.

If your child is a part of this statistic, here are some ways to help:

-Let your child know that they can come to you if someone says something hurtful to them online, especially before responding
-Tell your child not to retaliate because that starts a cycle
-Save the evidence of cyberbullying
-Remind your child not to blame themselves
-Encourage your child to alert you if they are aware of others who are victim to similar behaviors

Cyberbullying is not the only threat posed to children and teens online.

The Crimes Against Children Research Center says one in five teenagers have come across some type of unwanted, sexual encounter online, like being asked to engage in sexual activity or sexual talk.

-Remind your child to never give out personal information
-Never talk to strangers online
-Never meet up with someone you met online
-Monitor your child's messaging
-Utilize privacy settings
-Set allotted times for when your child can go online
-Place your computer in a central area

Lastly, remember that many social media apps have location trackers.

For example, the Snapchat app recently enacted a "Snap Map" feature where you can go in and pinpoint someone's location on a map, if you are friends with them on the app.

This is automatically enacted with the update, but can be disabled by changing the settings to "ghost mode."

Always double check your child's privacy settings on all of their apps and let them know that even though social media can be fun, it can also be dangerous in some situations.