How to protect your children from cybercrime as online learning resumes

As students prepare to resume online learning, authorities warn more children could become targets of cybercrime.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The coronavirus isn't the only thing parents have to worry about as the new school year gets underway. They'll also have to be on the lookout for cybercriminals and sexual predators.

"Parents really need to talk to their kids about who they are talking to online, and you as parents should be vetting out that information as well," said FBI Special Agent Amanda Determine.

More than ever students are being encouraged to take their social interactions and school work online. Parents can help them have a positive experience by taking steps to safeguard their online activity with antivirus software with privacy setting. For younger children, install parental controls and discuss being a good digital citizen while online. Parents also have to stay active and involved with their children's online activity.

"Even if you are working, check-in randomly when you get a break, take five minutes away after a phone call for work, and check in with your kids," Determine said. "See what they are doing online and who they are talking to and what that conversation looks like."

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Cyber experts also say before downloading a third-party app, parents and educators should vet and familiarize themselves with what the app does.

"What people don't realize when they are using apps for school or testing for sports for different clubs is one of the main revenue sources of these digital platforms is to collect data on you and then to sell that data," said Karen North, a social digital media professor at USC.

She warns parents to stay away from apps that request facial or retinal scans, too much personal information or for control of your child's computer. Even free educational resources should be eyed with caution.

"Even if we are not really experts we need to take our adult-world experience logic and teach them how to be safe on the streets of the internet," said North.

It's also important to teach children about their online responsibility when it comes to using online platforms, whether it involves talking to strangers over the internet or sending sensitive pictures of themselves.

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