WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As with most parenting dilemmas, ideas differ on how soon is too soon to give your child access to the internet through smart phones and tablets.
With a couple clicks of the keyboard and swipes of the finger, internet users have access to millions of people across the world. The only problem is, children and teenagers do not always have the discretion of knowing not to connect with people they don’t know in person.
“We’ve had girls that are living at home with their parents, going to school and being trafficked at the same time,” Sgt. Jeff Swanson with Kansas internet crimes against children said.
Swanson receives hundreds cyber tips per year from Washington DC about Kansas children being exploited through electronic solicitation. That does not include tips locally from police, concerned parents or schools.
It’s a growing problem, happening in Kansas and in Wichita. Two local children were recently recovered from as far as Colorado and Tennessee. They had been solicited electronically, likely through social media.
“In the state of Kansas, I receive a little over 600 cyber tips a year involving reports of children who’ve been exploited across the state of Kansas through the use of electronic facilitation,” Swanson said.
Swanson’s best advice is for parents to know all the apps on their child’s phone or tablet. Some apps can hide contacts and messages. Watch Secret Apps here for more information.
“Parents have a responsibility, just like teaching your child to drive, on how to be online safely, what to do, what not to do, just the same as driving a car,” Swanson said.