GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - With students spending more and more time on the computer during the pandemic—they’re more connected than ever… but it also can open them up to predators.

There are safety experts bringing important messages right to a place where the parents and the kids will see them --- on social media.

Ten potential predators are facing charges in a federal operation called operation home alone - lead by a South Carolina Sheriff's Office.

They are accused of preying on children online.

A Greenville father tells me that paying attention to the changes online was key to keeping his kids safe.

"It’s not my position to say it is good or back but I think they know a whole lot more than I ever thought they did," Eric Anderson says, " be open minded, keep your eyes open to what your children are doing and saying and thinking. If it’s on their phone bill pay attention to the phone."

A mother shared a message with us on Facebook: "My kids are young adults now, but when they were younger, I collected their phones at night. Sometimes I would scan them, sometimes not. We also had parental controls on main computer/tv. We talked with them regularly about internet safety & that www stood for World Wide Web & anyone can see what you put online. We tried to always speak clearly & bluntly about dangers & inappropriateness online."

As many have their eyes glued to their phones always, a tech safety expert took her safety messages to TikTok.

"Instagram just rolled out of feature to make it harder for older predators to get to your kids but it prevents adults from messenger kids who are under the age of 18 who don’t follow them," Fareedah says in a video.

I asked this cyber security coach what should kids be mindful of sharing --she says sharing certain emotions- because predators may gain your child's trust by being a shoulder to lean on.

Fareedah Shaheed, a Cybersecurity coach, says, "They are tends to be a lot of sharing of emotions so a lot of predators can take advantage of that and they will say oh they are feeling depressed or they feel ugly and say oh no you’re really pretty so they will start grooming you and having conversations with you so things that we would normally deem inappropriate are no longer inappropriate because they build a connection with you."
 
Local Safety Expert who can offer parents guidance here.
The Julie Valentine Center has resources here.

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