GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — “We’re seeing technology explode in our lives, and as children start to use technology in great educational ways, it’s also important parents take the time to have those tough conversations and make it ok to have that dialogue,” Mesa County Sheriff’s Office P.I.O, Meghan Terlecky stated.
19 year old Devin Maestas of Clifton charged with multiple counts of internet luring of a child is one of many in Western Colorado facing charges or already convicted as child predators.
That’s why Callie Berkson of the Grand Junction Police Department warns it’s never too early to talk to your kids about internet safety.
“But we also want to make sure they feel comfortable to talk to us,” Grand Junction Police Department P.I.O, Callie Berkson mentioned.
Because kids are grasping technology at earlier and earlier ages, Meghan Terlecky with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department says supervision is key.
Terlecky added, “If they’re on different social media platforms, we encourage the parents to be there with them.”
Another critical tip to reduce the chance a predator will find your child is to turn the location service of their smartphones off.
“That way if you post a picture, or take a picture, somebody who may take an interest in your child or your home. They don’t have the capability to find out where you live,” Berkson added.
Even if your child says he met a new friend at school.
Terlecky uttered, “Parents are going to want to meet them as well. Make sure your involved in that process.”
One more tip parents may find useful is to keep an eye out for any changes in your child’s behavior.
“That includes a difference in your child’s online activity or behavior. That includes maybe becoming a hermit and pulling away from social activities. It could also include angry outbursts or anxiety or depression,” Berkson said.
There is no perfect script or dialogue to have with your children about online predators, but the important thing is to start those conversations.