The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s Computer Crimes Unit and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force continue to see an increase in the number of CyberTips via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In fact, for the second year in a row, the SBI has received a record number of CyberTips despite many students returning to the classroom setting and parents returning to the office. In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, the SBI received 12,760 CyberTips. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, there were 9,308 CyberTips compared to 4,930 CyberTips in 2019.
“While we are hopeful this trend will not follow us into a new year, the numbers clearly indicate this is a very serious problem and we must do all we can to protect children online,” said Kevin Roughton, Special Agent in Charge. The top three sources for last year’s CyberTips came from Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, applications most parents believe are safe for their kids to use. Here are some practical safety tips for parents/guardians:
- Parents must frequently communicate with their kids about who they interact with online and talk to them about what is and what isn’t acceptable online behavior.
- Parents should also warn their kids about the dangers of sharing inappropriate photos and videos.
- Also, be sure to check their phones periodically to see what apps they have and how they’re using them.