Keeping teens safe on social media

Staying safe on Social Media

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(ABC 6 News) – A warning for parents and caregivers on the potential risks of social media. This after newly released court documents provided further insight into the case of 36-year-old Jonathan Tompkin.

He’s accused of using a popular social media app to track down a 13-year-old girl before threatening her with a gun and sexually assaulting her.

This situation is raising alarms on the safety of social media platforms. Data from the parental-monitoring company Bark claimed that at least 21% of teens have encountered predatory behaviors from someone online in 2021.

An estimated 5 billion people will use social media in 2024. Mostly to keep up with friend and the news. However, these apps can do more than just check in on you.

“They can pinpoint exactly where you are,” said Vince Guerra with Computer Resource Center.

Apps like Snapchat can give people on your friend’s list your real time location. Other platforms allow you to add your location to your post.

“So, I mean it’s cool to show people that I’m at this event and that event, but that also runs the risk of people knowing where you are at all times,” said Guerra.

It’s situations like this that worry Lorena Contreras about her safety. “I put all those setting off off off, because I travel so I don’t want them to know if I’m not home or if I’m home,” she said.

But what really concerns many parents and guardians; kids talking with strangers online.

In 2019, Shugoll Research estimated 40% of kids grades 4-8 admit they have done it. Of that 40%, 53% have given the stranger their phone number and 6% say they even gave them their address.

Contreras says you need to be open with your kids about the dangers on the internet.

“(My nephew) plays Roblox for example I tell him not to do the chat. I make sure I check them you know don’t talk to anybody,” said Contreras.

In 2016, Pew Research Center found majority of teens say their parents have talked to them about online safety. Experts say to monitor your child social media activity like what they are posting and who they are following. Also make sure their accounts are private the location services are off and social media apps aren’t given access to your child’s location data.

“It’s kind of twofold because a lot of the time they are going to want to keep the location setting on the phone so they can track where their kids are, but once that on it lets any app ask for it so then as a parent you need to go through each app to and actually turn it off if you want to protect them that way,” said Guerra.

Guerra adds kids should keep in mind once it’s on social media it’s out there forever even if you delete it. So, make sure to think twice before you hit the send button or allow a device to use your location.

ABC 6 News also wants your thought on Teen Internet Safety for future research. CLICK HERE to fill out a three question survey.