Summertime is prime for online predators; Mesa police offer safety tips for kids and teens

MESA -

Your kids aren't the only ones who look forward to summer vacation: it's prime time for predators.

Summertime is when police see a spike in child internet crimes.

Mesa Police says it has no shortage of cases right now with victims ranging in age from seven to 17 years old. Detectives say creepers know more kids are going online unsupervised and adults mask themselves as teens. 

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“These predators are professionals and are really good at it, this is what they do, grooming these kids and getting them to do what they normally would not want to do,” said Child Internet Crimes Unit Detective Scott Pietrzak.

He says pedophiles groom kids to send pictures and passwords to their email and social media accounts and then blackmail the kids by using those passwords to take over those accounts.

Internet safety starts with parents. Mesa Police offers these tips: 

  • Do your homework. A simple Google search can update you on which apps are trending with teens and explain how they’re used. 
  • Set standards for when and where your child can use certain apps. 
  • Set rules for downloading new apps, and only allow it with parent permission
  • Sign an accountability contract with your kids that outlines the rules and consequences. Safekids.com has an example you can print out. 

“Don't let them rule the way they get onto their apps or on their cell phones. Be in their business, know what they are doing,” said Det. Pietrzak. 

Smartphones and tablets allow you to block the use of certain apps, disable the camera, disable the ability to download or delete apps and also allow you to block specific websites.

You can password protect the ability to access those options. Most internet routers also include parental controls that will cover every device you connect to the internet. 

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