MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) -A lot of worry these days about the impact of social media and our teens using devices 24/7, the breakdown of interpersonal social skills and all the different damage to mental wellbeing children.
Parents cannot watch their child all the time, but they box learn about these issues to better protect their children when using technology.
The Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama, aka The Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, has launched a statewide digital safety prevention campaign.
The construction site is full of videos and resource guides covering online interaction, online grooming, buying medicine online, online apps, games and promoting digital wellbeing. Everything is focused on safety, awareness and prevention.
As technology advances, new forms of crime emerge. It’s never been easier for abusers to get in touch with your children, share abuse images, hide their identities, and trick others into committing more crimes. There are many different studies that indicate the average age of first exposure is 8-9, sometimes “children as young as 4” are exposed while playing games on their parents’ devices.
We remind parents to make it a priority to be involved in the lives of their children. Know who they interact with online through games and apps. Know how apps, games, and DMs (direct messaging) work so you know what to look for. Ask your child to show you around and help you learn. They will probably know more than many adults.
“As parents, guardians, allies and educators, we need to work every day to make sure young people feel safe enough to come to us if a decision they’ve made goes wrong. Not having these conversations doesn’t protect them from harm, it leaves them ill-equipped to know how to handle a problem when it occurs,” says Barbara Fowler, co-founder of Fowler Davis 4 Change.
Alabama Family Center is a collaboration of state agencies and partners supporting Alabama families with resources, services and more to help raise happy, healthy children. Call Childhelp at 800-422-4453 to report abuse. For internet security resources, visit North Alabama Family Services.
Parental Helpline (PAL) provides helpful aid for moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers and anyone who wants to maintain a happy and healthy family. Whether you need an attentive ear or real resources, PAL specialists are there for you! Available 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call, text or use the online chat option. Messages can be left at any time. Call. 866-962-3030.
Connect the Alabama app, from the Department of Mental Health, is an important tool, providing fast and reliable service to a person seeking help. The app is available for download on iOS via the App Store and for Android devices via Google Play.
NAMI Alabama Crisis Line 800-273-8255.
National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) – The youth mental health crisisWe need to listen to our young people. We must commit to continuing to learn from what they are going through and we must invest in them. We cannot afford to lose more young people to suicide or leave them to suffer in silence any longer. Our young people need us — and we need them. Call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-6264 MF, 9am-9pm CST. In a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741 for free, confidential crisis counseling 24/7.
Thorn for parents (Be Your Child’s Safety Net – Thorn for Parents) puts more control in the hands of parents and children. They offer discussion guides for talking to kids ages 7-17. You can sign up to receive text alert reminders for conversations. These provide simple ice-breaking conversation starters on the toughest topics in today’s digital world.
NetSmartz is NCMEC’s online safety education program that offers age-appropriate videos and activities to help teach children to be safer online with the goal of helping children become more aware potential risks online and empower them to help prevent victimization by making safer choices online and offline .
If you know your child may be or is being exploited online, call the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 800-THE LOST (800-843-5678) or report to CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com. NCMEC’s Cyber Tipline is the nation’s centralized online child exploitation reporting system. All advice remains confidential. Available 24/7. You can also email [email protected]
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