Keeping kids safe on social media sites

Posted at 4:21 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 18:41:22-05

There are still a lot of questions about the death of a 13-year-old girl from Blacksburg, but it seems social media may have played a role.

Police talk to slain girl’s family; 2 Virginia Tech students arrested

Nicole Lovell's father has said he believes she met the college student accused of killing her on-line, where she led an active but at times secret life.

It's a scary thought for parents.

"I have an 11 and 12-year-old and I can only imagine what the parents are going through," Tasha Moore, a Virginia Beach parent, told NewsChannel 3.

With so many social media sites out there, it can be hard for parents to keep track of them all.   Even when parents are vigilant, there's still the chance that someone can slip through the safeguards they've set up.

"You can do all the precautions but, you know, stuff can still happen," said Moore.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, there are four major dangers for kids on social media sites.

  • oversharing information - Even if an account is set to private, someone can hack the account and view the information.
  • people pretending to be someone else - The anonymity provided online makes it easy for criminals to go undetected
  • location-based services - They expose the profile user's location and whereabouts and can allow predators to track your movements.
  • posting photos - Photos can easily be manipulated or end up somewhere they weren't intended.

Melanie Douglas says strangers are constantly reaching out to her teen daughters online.

"They do it all the time, they send them messages and stuff too," Douglas said.

To try to keep her kids from falling victim, Douglas says she keeps a close eye on what they're doing.  "I have all of their passwords and I follow them."

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team has a few more tips.

  • keep your computer in an open area
  • monitor what your kids are doing on-line
  • create separate accounts on your computer so you can set how much access your kids have
  • implement parental controls within your web browser
  • keep lines of communication open

Several parents told NewsChannel 3 for them, communication is one of the most important.

"Kids are really into technology, so there's ways that they can find around it, so I just think monitoring and being open with them, it helps," said Moore.