With Kids on Devices, Advocates Want Parents to Stay Vigilant for Online Predators

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As South Florida schools require students to work online, parents are having to be extra vigilant of the time kids are spending on the internet.

“There’s no more school, their friends they are used to they don’t get to spend time with, and so that is something predators use," Florida State Sen. Lauren Book said.

Book is a sex abuse advisor and now fights to protect children from online predators. She says one in five children who touch a digital device will be sexually solicited online, a statistic even more scary now with kids online for school.

“The FBI has recently come out and said that children are significantly at a much higher rate being solicited online and being groomed for abuse,” Book said.

Advocates say there are several ways to help parents prevent their child from becoming a target on these devices.

“Keep the computer in a common room in the house, make sure that you have all those passwords, that you’re checking it, that you have certain governors on the computers so that they can’t go to certain websites,” said Book.

Detective Michael Joo from Broward County Sheriff’s Office says while children are home, they want attention.

"If they are not getting attention or approval from their house, from their families, from their loved ones, they are going to seek it from others," he said.

While he hasn’t seen a significant increase in child sexual abuse crimes in the county, he said there’s a silver lining with children at home now that parents can take advantage of.

“Use this time to try and either strengthen or reestablish relationships with your children,” he said.

Book said it’s a constant fight to protect children.

“Predators are thinking 24/7 about how they can harm our children,” she said.

She wants parents to be aware.

“You may think that your child is sitting in your living room safe and completely fine but really if you’re on the internet you can be anywhere in the world,” she said.

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