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Online safety for children a growing concern

(KTIV) – Safety on the Internet. It’s something parents have had to be focused on for 20 years now.

But with the growth of social media and video becoming widely available on the Internet, keeping tabs on what your children are watching is becoming more and more difficult, and more important.

So why are parents concerned? It’s called the Momo Challenge.

Shared on social media platforms like Facebook and the free messaging app WhatsApp, the challenge is to meet Momo.

To do that, you have to follow a series of instructions. But those instructions can include harming yourself or others.

Youtube has released a statement on the Momo Challenge. It says in part:

“We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies. If you see videos including harmful or dangerous challenges on YouTube, we encourage you to flag them to us immediately. These challenges are clearly against our Community Guidelines.”

Facebook and What’s App have also released a statement. It reads in part:

“We don’t allow the promotion of self-injury or suicide and will remove it when reported to us. We also provide people who have expressed suicidal thoughts, and people who want to reach out to a friend who may be struggling, with a number of support options and resources.”

With so many apps available, it can be hard to track what’s on your child’s phone.

But experts say you have to do exactly that.

And one Siouxland school is making sure to help educate their students on how to be safe online.

“The student phones are always an issue both for parents and the schools,” said Dr. Jerry Rasmussen, Dakota Valley Schools Superintendent.

School officials say it can be hard to monitor what kids are looking at on their phones.

Rasmussen said their schools in North Sioux City, South Dakota, are doing a number of things to keep their students safe. This includes blocking websites and reminding students about the kind of digital footprint they leave when they use social media.

Rassmussen said even when they’re not in school, it’s important to educate students on the dangers that lurk online.

“There are things on the internet that are great and it’s a great tool but, you really have to be a very cautious consumer as to what’s on the internet,” said Rasmussen.

Sioux City Police say they can help to keep an open line of communication open with your child.

“Strongly encourage you to be aware of what they are looking at and what internet browsers they are viewing and just make sure you keep that open communication open with them,” said Lt. Chris Groves, Sioux City Police.

Groves says locally they don’t typically see many online crimes of this type involving children.

But parents still need to be aware.

“We don’t see a lot with children’s stuff. probably more with kids on the internet is maybe the predators looking for children but, this momo thing is a little bit different than we’re typically used to seeing,” said Groves.

Both Groves and Rasmussen strongly encourage parents to communicate with their child and teach them just like you would any other important topic.

Some officials say limiting the time your child spends online can also help along with knowing the apps your children are on.

Ashly Richardson

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