Authorities Warn Parents Of Smart Device Dangers Ahead Of Christmas

Tuesday, December 15th 2015, 6:15 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

From iPads and tablets to smart phones, electronic devices are hot Christmas gifts. But authorities have a warning for parents before you put those presents under the tree.

The concern is most electronic devices connect to the internet and all the dangers that come with it.

Mary Ann Morgan is buying a lot of tech gifts this Christmas.

“All my gifts are basically tech gifts,” she said.

And she's pretty savvy about it.

“On the child, I’ll fix that so he can’t actually go on the internet.” 

Experts say you should set up parental controls before you even wrap up the gift. Adam Whitney with the OSBI Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force says most devices have parental controls for websites and apps. Go to the owner’s manual to see how to set it up.

Whitney says parents should also physically keep an eye on what their kids are doing online. Not only to see what your children are searching for, but who is searching for them. Child predators are everywhere.

“Through any application they can find access to kids,” said Whitney.

Whitney says to monitor internet usage, and if there's a big jump to check it out to find out why. Tell your kids they can only be on the internet in public areas so mom and dad walking by can see what they're doing. And that includes when they're playing video games.

“Those predators will contact those kids in that environment and then try to move them to other applications on the internet, in social media where they can talk more privately,” said Whitney. 

The best defense here is a face-to-face conversation.

Whitney says parents should also know all of their children's passwords. Their electronic devices and social media could give investigators clues in case something happens.

Some internet providers including AT&T also have parental control programs that are free with your service.