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Online predators targeting children digitally during the quarantine

Tech Safety Company, BARK, says they're escalating 23% more complaints of online predation to law enforcement since the COVID-19 quarantine began.

An alarming statistic from a tech safety company is revealing an increase in the number of online predators they have had to report since the coronavirus quarantine began. 

Atlanta based BARK, a technological parental monitoring tool, specifically reported a 23 percent increase in online predators they have had to report to law enforcement since the quarantine began. 

Their Chief Parenting Officer told our Kaitlyn Ross it's something all parents should be watching closely. 

"It's heartbreaking and disgusting and terrifying. And we hope all caregivers and parents listen and talk with their kids open and honestly about how people online may not be who they say they are, said BARK Chief Parenting Officer Titania Jordan. 

She says as soon as your children are old enough to use technology, they're old enough to hear about tricky people who might try to talk to them online. 

"For older children who understand, who can understand the concept of online predators, you have to talk about these things, because it absolutely can happen to your child," she said.  

She says they knew there would be a rise in online predation when they realized how long kids would be stuck at home, but they didn't think it would be by this much. 

Their data is supported by a recent alert by the FBI that warns parents to be vigilant about screen time. 

"Children are on screens more, increasing the time they can be contacted. They're also on screens at different and sporadic times of the night because their schedules are off, they don't have to be up and on a bus by 6 a.m.," she said. 

BARK uses technology to monitor messages coming into kids' devices, and Jordan says they're watching predators take advantage of the uncertainty during COVID-19. "Predators know that children and anxious, they miss their friends, they're lonely," Jordan said. 

She says online predators also know that some families are struggling financially right now. 

"A lot of games require coins and upgrades and with the economy being what it is, and things are tight, that could be another tactic they use," she said. 

But she says that doesn't mean your kids have to be vulnerable. 

"We can do something about it. We can talk to our kids, we can let them know that if they bring this to us, we are not going to take their access away. They're not going to surface something if they think they're going to lose their access or their ability to talk to their friends," she said. 

Titania says the best way to talk to kids about this is to just be direct - let them know that there are bad people out there, but you're always available to talk if they feel nervous, scared, or confused by anything online. 


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