Internet Crime & Safety
How to Report Trouble
Contact your local police department. If you live in West Fargo, call (701) 515-5500.
Additional national advocacy groups are helpful, such as Cyber Tip Line, run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Call Cyber Tip Line at (800) 843-5678 or visit their website at National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Online Safety Tips
Due to the increase of hybrid learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, children's increased online presence may put them at greater risk of child exploitation.
The following measures can help protect children from online child predators:
- Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan. Establish clear guidelines, teach children to spot red flags, and encourage children to have open communication with a trusted adult.
- Supervise young children's internet usage, including checking their profiles and posts.
- Review games, apps, and social media sites before they are downloaded or used by children. Pay particular attention to apps and sites that feature direct messaging, video chats, file uploads, and user anonymity, which are frequently relied upon by child predators.
- Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social media sites, and electronic devices.
- Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos, and videos online in public forms or with people they don't know in real life. Explain that images posted online will be permanently on the internet.
- Teach children about body safety and boundaries, including the importance of saying 'no' to inappropriate requests both in the physical and virtual world.
- Be alert to potential signs of abuse, including changes in children's use of electronic devices, attempt to conceal online activity, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, and depression.
- Encourage children to tell a parent, guardian, or other trust adult if anyone asks them to engage in inappropriate behavior.
Seven Ways to Keep Children Safe on Social Media
- Keep an open dialogue with your children. Communicate with your kids about their social media use and openly discuss your expectations and limits for their online activity.
- Educate children on the risks of social media. This will help them understand why rules are important and could make it easier for them to spot warning signs.
- Follow age requirement guidelines. Sites that collect data from their users have to follow U.S. federal law that requires them to notify parents and gain consent before allowing anyone younger than 13 to sign up.
- Set ground rules for social media use. Have a conversation with your children about what they're allowed to post, the accounts they follow and how often they'll be allowed to use social media.
- Stay up to date on your child's privacy settings. Some platforms make profiles public by default, so it's best to check on privacy customization options.
- Consider products that help monitor online activity. There are tools available to filter content and alert you if there is anything concerning such as a post that shows too much personal information.
- Utilize cyberbullying resources. Talk to your child about the fact that virtual words can be just as cruel and destructive as bullying in real life. Keep an eye on your child's social media and cellphone usage to spot red flags of cyberbully early on, and know resources that can help you confront it.
Three Safety Rules for Children
- Never reveal your name, address, or Social Security number or any other personal information online.
- Never forget that people you meet online are strangers.
- Never hesitate you ask your parents for help in an uncomfortable situation.