How being tech savvy can keep kids safe

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Parents are heading back to the classroom to get caught up on today’s technology.

With so many apps and so many social media sites, parents are often out of touch with what their teens are doing online.

The 18th Judicial District, which encompasses Arapahoe, Elbert, Lincoln and Douglas counties, along with a juvenile task force, put on a seminar for parents Tuesday addressing online behavior.

Not only can children fall victim to predators, but they can also get in trouble for actions they might not know are crimes such as sexting and bullying.

“It’s changing constantly. It’s basically whatever their friends are using they’re going to want to be on,” said Gary Dawson, assistant district attorney for the 18th Judicial District.

He has taught thousands of Colorado families his program Real-Life Internet Safety for Kids (RISK) since 2009.

“I think one of the biggest things I try and get parents to think about is just trying to feel more comfortable with the technology,” he said.

Dawson suggests parents who are not tech savvy sit down with their children and let them explain what each app is, how it works and why they need it on their phone.

“The absolute best thing to do is have open communication with their kids because having good communication is the best kind of prevention out there,” Dawson said.

Other RISK tips include:

  • Limiting the amount of personal identifying information posted on a webpage or profile
  • Emphasizing that once words and pictures are posted or sent online, through an app or through text message, those are permanently stored online forever
  • Think before you post
  • Set personal pages and profiles to “private” instead of than “public” so only trusted friends can contact your child
  • Set rules and guidelines for your child’s online behavior and always know their passwords