Dept. of Homeland Security: increase in child exploitation, cyberbullying during pandemic

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UNITED STATES (WJMN) – As more kids are at home during the pandemic, there has been an increase of issues with cybersecurity and cyberbullying.

And with more people spending time on the internet, so are cybercriminals.

Children have been one of the most frequent targets.

“There’s the Center of Missing and Exploited Children, they recorded over six million tips concerning online child exploitation just in March and April. That’s three times higher than last March and April of 2019. So there’s definitely been an uptick of activity,” said Robert Karas, associate director of Cyber Defense Education and Training Subdivision under the Department of Homeland Security.

Popular apps and websites are main sources of cyberbullying and child exploitation.

“Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, that allow messaging and blogging that are potentially unsafe because their communication features can lead to cyberbullying or predators to harm children. While kids might be using it for fun other people might not be seeing it as such fun.”

Karas offered advice to parents.

“I think parents need to stop, think, and connect and talk to their kids and talk constantly to them, and not just a one time thing. So make it a constant thing and constant reminder. Just use the same concepts that you use in every day life and apply it to the internet with your children.”

Some red flags parents and children should look out for when it comes to potential cybercriminals or predators: Anybody asking your children for personal information, such as how many siblings they have or what school they go to. The predator could use this information to manipulate the child and gain their trust. Another warning sign is cybercriminals messaging children saying that they want something such as tickets to a local concert or a movie. This is a way to usually get a child to meet up with them.

Below are some resources for parents and children on cybersecurity and cyberbullying:

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