School-aged children spend more time online than ever. Recently, Common Sense Media conducted a survey regarding the amount of time children and teens spend online. They discovered a spike in online activity for individuals between the ages of eight and eighteen. In fact, media use for that age group “has grown faster during the two years of the pandemic than it had over the four years before the pandemic began.” Common Sense Media found that screen time grew 3% for children in early adolescence and 11% for teenagers from 2015 to 2019. However, from 2019 to 2021, both groups saw an increase of 17% in screen use – and that doesn’t include school or homework. Of course, more time spent online means more exposure to online threats. Recently, the FBI spoke with Pittsburgh educators and parents about how to protect children online.
The FBI Expresses Concerns about Online Dangers
According to CBS News Pittsburgh, FBI agents from the Pittsburgh field office discussed online dangers with area parents and educators. At the end of 2022, the Justice Department issued a warning regarding predatory behavior and “sextortion” schemes against young boys. The Pittsburgh agents echoed this concern, emphasizing that the more students are online, the more dangers they face. CBS News Pittsburgh states that Mike Nordwall, a Special Agent with the FBI, stressed the importance of knowing the risks associated with online activity. Specifically, Nordwall mentioned identity theft, cyberbullying, and predation as risks. “[T]here’s so much out there that can really exploit our children and really damage them for years to come,” Nordwall told CBS News Pittsburgh.
How Can Schools Protect Children Online?
At the meeting, FBI agents shared ways that parents and schools could ensure online safety. They spoke of the importance of teaching how to be safe online and how to identify threats. Additionally, the FBI stressed that online activity should be closely monitored. Technology can help monitor online activity in schools. Screen monitoring software, like LearnSafe, detects at-risk behavior on school computers. With a customizable database of terms and keywords, LearnSafe can detect at-risk activity including threats of violence and self-harm. LearnSafe also detects predatory behavior and cyberbullying. In this way, LearnSafe allows schools to monitor and respond to online dangers in real time. This allows schools to intervene appropriately to maintain student safety and security.