HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Representatives from the FBI hosted a presentation on child and teen internet safety at the Minuteman Commons here Jan. 23.
The presentation, keeping your children safe and secure online, was a collaboration between the FBI and Hanscom’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, to educate guardians on how to monitor their children’s internet use and prevent exploitation.
“There’s nothing more important than taking care of our people, especially our children,” said Lt. Col. Charles Silvanic, 66th Air Base Group deputy commander.
Topics included social media and gaming, digital footprints, cyberbullying, extortion as well as how to keep children safe from online predators.
A special agent from the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force, whose name is omitted for security, explained that cutting children off completely from the internet is not realistic. He encouraged guardians to take a more hands-on approach.
“Cell phones and the internet are a part of our kid’s daily lives, whether it’s school or their social lives,” he said. “We as parents need to take the initiative to learn the apps our kids are using.”
FBI officials discussed how an avenue of communication, such as through social media mobile apps and gaming platforms, creates an opportunity for nefarious users. Utilizing passcodes and disabling location-sharing settings are the first steps to keeping children’s internet use secure.
Directed at teens, the training reiterated the impact social media can have on perspective college and job opportunities, and that nothing is ever completely private on the internet.
“Once you hit send on something, you lose control of it and it is out there forever,” said another presenter and FBI investigator.
The presentation also included resource guides for guardians such as www.connectsafely.org and www.KidSmartz.org.
The special agent emphasized the most important and effective means of keeping children safe online is open communication.
“Communication is everything in this battle,” he said. “Talk with your kids and let them know they can talk to you about anything without getting in trouble.”
If personnel suspect their child is being exploited, contact the local authorities. Personnel can make tips at www.cybertipline.com or by calling 800-843-5678.
For more information regarding installation resources for online safety, contact the SAPR office at 781-225-3541 or the community support coordinator at 781-225-1771.