How can families keep their children safe from danger when online?

How can families keep their children safe from danger when online?

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The internet is an ever changing landscape when it comes to keeping kids safe while they’re online. But how can families keep their children away from harm on social media platforms like Facebook, X, Instagram, or Snapchat?

Several CEOs of Tech Companies attended a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about monitoring their social media platforms. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said members of Congress are looking to create more internet security measures, and hold the social media platforms accountable.

“Remember, this is the beginning where I am hopeful. This is about kids and the fact is we haven’t updated these laws for 20 some year,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “Over 20 of these kids have committed suicide because they think their lives ruined because they’re so young. So the bills basically create better criminal penalties, but also give law enforcement the tools they need, and finally creates liabilities for these companies.”

Many families at the hearing today held up pictures of their kids who dealt with sextortion, cyberbullying or a drug overdose from fentanyl they received while online. Bridgette Norring, a mother from Minnesota, talked about how she lost her son.

“Devin was 19 when he went on to Snapchat. He had been experiencing blackout, migraines and dental pain. He and a friend purchased what they thought was a Percocet. It turned out to be 100% pure fentanyl, and that person left my son alone and he died,” Norring said. “We’ve been fighting ever since to make change where we can, especially where these platforms are concerned. The loss of life hasn’t stopped, whether it be the fentanyl, whether it be the cyber bullying, sextortion, it’s all continued ever since my son has died.”

Department of Justice has several tips in preventing kids and teens from encountering dangers on the internet. Sen. Klobuchar said there needs to be justice for the families impacted.

“If you let this fentanyl be sold on your platform, you’re going to be liable for that. If you let people commit crimes on your platform, you are liable for that. So maybe they need to spend more of it on protecting in a real way so this doesn’t happen.”

Peter Graves, the Educational Technology and Innovation Coordinator with Duluth ISD 709 says there are several guidelines on how families can keep their children safe while on the internet.

“We have Internet filters and we have resources that can look for threats within our system,” Graves said. “We can monitor some of the correspondence that goes on, but we have to be vigilant to talk to students on how things are working for them.”

Other advice Graves said included keeping an open line of communication for kids, and teach them to spot red flags. While every family’s use of the internet is unique, it’s worthwhile to have a set of rules for internet use.

For more information about the SHIELD Act you can read more here. Also for the story about the Senate Judicial Hearing you can read more here.