TAFY: Keeping up with your child's digital safety

Tips on how to ensure your child isn't a victim

As the end of school approaches, kids are looking forward to their summer free time, but with that comes more time on phones, tablets and computers.  That added time leaves a bigger window for danger if parents aren't armed with the right tools to keep kids safe.

A 2011 Pew Research Center study found more than 75-percent of teens own a cell phone.  They check that cell phone at least 60 times a day, and often times, social media is the reason they are on it.

"We simply require [our daughter] to friend us on all social media networks so we can keep track of her activity," says Mitch Neff, Project Manager of Social Media as Cisco Systems.  "We also change the password regularly on our wireless router.  And we turn the router off at a certain time of night.  We're always able to establish a higher level of control."

But parents can't be with their kids at all time and that's where the MamaBear App comes in.

"Information on a parents' news feed in MamaBear would be things like when they arrive at school safely, when they get home, who's following them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook," says Robyn Spoto, President of MamaBear App.

The free app also sends push alerts to a parent's phone when their child uploads pictures to social media sites, even showing the parent the picture that's uploaded.  It even has a feature to alert a parent when their child is speeding!

You can find the MamaBear App in the Apple App store by searching: "Mama Bear"


-- Don't post pictures with school identifiers like sweatshirts or uniforms.  Predators know exactly where to find your child when they know what school they attend.

-- Turn off the chat feature on gaming systems like XBox and Playstation.  That way you're certain your child isn't engaging in conversations with complete strangers.  If your child is 13 or older, maybe leaving the chat feature on, but not allowing them to use a headset.  Make sure all the sound is coming from the TV so you can hear what's going on.

--  Check your child's phone for apps like "KIK", "WHAT'S APP", "TINDER", "SNAPCHAT".  These apps are often breeding grounds for predators to disguise themselves to befriend your child.  Local law enforcement says they also know of instances where bullying and sexting have also been known to happen on these apps.  (See more apps to watch for at http://wfts.tv/1qlf6ul )

--To increase safety features on your child's phone, go into settings and make an additional password that only you know.  That password will be used to turn on certain safety features on your child's smart phone that will stop him/her from downloading apps that aren't age appropriate.  Different phones have various settings, so ask your cell service carrier about safety features within the phone.

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