It’s no secret that children are spending more time online than before as school has turned virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While the internet is helpful, it can also be one of the most dangerous things for children. Just know that every time you bring a smart device into your home, you’re opening up your home to the entire world.

With so many children online for extended periods of time, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman and his team would like to remind all parents and guardians of a few simple tips and guidelines to protect young people:

- Inquire about your school’s policies for safety and e-learning. Many schools are figuring it out as they go, so parents have a role to be alert to the technologies/tactics being introduced.

- Parental involvement is the best safety feature. Review and approve games and apps before they are downloaded.

- Make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for online gaming systems and electronic devices.

- Monitor your children’s use of the internet; keep electronic devices in an open, common room of the house.

- Check your children’s profiles and what they post online.

- Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the internet.

- Make sure children know that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online should be reported to a parent, guardian or other trusted adult, as well as law enforcement.

- Continue to have conversations with your children about online safety using a variety of scenarios and talking them through simple, age-appropriate safety plans.

- Consult online resources such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's for talking points and more strategies for online safety.

The Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's office offers free internet safety presentations for children and adults. Contact the High Tech Crimes Division at 832-927-6158 to have one of their experienced and knowledgeable investigators speak to your group.

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