Cyber safety expert: Encounters with online predators more likely during summer

Rick Floyd recommends more parental controls on kids’ devices
13-year-old Joshua says he knows how to steer clear of online strangers with help form his older sister, 21-year-old Jada
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - While many students have gladly turned in their Chromebooks for the end of the school year, chances are they’ll still find a way to occupy themselves online. Rick Floyd, a internet crimes investigator who now handles cyber security for the Greenville County School District, said students’ chances of encountering an online predator increase while they’re on summer break.

“The biggest concern is that they have a lot of free time and they’re not being monitored like they are when they’re on our Chromebooks,” Floyd said. “It’s up to the parents to monitor what the kids are doing.”

Floyd said many parents don’t pay close attention to their children’s online activities because they don’t believe it will to any problems.

“You don’t know who they’re interacting with,” Floyd told FOX Carolina. “That’s one of the problems you have to think about it.”

According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, one in five teenagers in the U.S. who regularly use the internet have received unwanted sexual solicitations online and only about 25 percent of them reported the encounter to an adult. CACRC also estimated that only 33 percent of households with internet service are actively protecting their children with filtering or blocking software.

“I recommend having at least a minimum of parental controls on the cell phone so your child is not able to download anything...without you knowing,” Floyd said.

Floyd also recommended third-party programs that can be downloaded to a phone to monitor text messages, locations and social media activity. He mentioned Bark and Net Nanny.

“A lot of good children are making bad choices,” Floyd said.