Cyber detective urges parents to check children’s online activity

Northumbria Police is urging parents to take a look at their children’s online activities.

A top cyber detective from Northumbria Police is urging parents to look closely at their children’s online activities.

Figures indicate that children as young as four are streaming inappropriate content on social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat.

One detective from Northumbria Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) is urging parents to take a more active role in their child’s online presence.

Detective Inspector Allen Hull said: “As the world and technology develops, it is crucial we work closely with parents and young people to make sure children grow up with the right skills and knowledge to protect themselves in all walks of life - and that includes online.

“The main point we make is that stranger danger still applies online. Parents wouldn’t let their child talk to a stranger in the park so why do it online. The reality is, it is much easier for predators to engage with young people online through games, social media platforms and chat groups so we would urge parents to take a closer look at their child’s device activity.

“Please check who your children are friends with online, who they follow, who follows them and make sure they know not to accept requests from strangers. You can also make sure they have strong privacy settings in place so strangers can’t see their content or engage with them without permission.”

Police are also encouraging parents to have discussions around online predators and the wider dangers of being online, with tips like making sure children have access online to age-appropriate apps and parental controls on content advised.

Advice also includes telling children to keep their information and images private, encourage them to block and report those who send offensive material to them and in the most serious of cases, and where people request to meet offline, report them to the police.

TikTok is one of many popular social media apps that parents have been advised to check in on
TikTok is one of many popular social media apps that parents have been advised to check in on
TikTok is one of many popular social media apps that parents have been advised to check in on

Detective Inspector Hull added: “We work with partners to help educate around the dangers, as well as consequences for taking and sharing indecent and explicit images of themselves online, as well as offering safety advice and how to report if you’ve been a victim.

“We find that children will be sent an inappropriate video or photo or find one online and share it amongst friends as a joke or form of bullying. They need to understand the consequences of this and the psychological impact it has on victims as well as their own future prospects.

“If your children see or read anything which makes them feel uncomfortable or if they are being dared to do things, make sure they know to tell an adult straight away.

“As children get older they will naturally want to explore many of the positive aspects of the internet and social media. We would urge parents to have those open discussions to prepare their children for the type of content they could encounter.

“Remind them that sharing indecent images of someone who is under 18, including themselves, is a sexual offence which could lead to serious consequences.

“Ask them to think carefully about what they who interact with and what they share, and how it might affect them in the future. Our officers are not here to judge, we’re here to listen and safeguard any victims so please report it – you could help prevent someone else becoming a victim.”