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Protecting kids against online predators

Posted at 6:26 PM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 17:24:04-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The recent announcement of charges against a local substitute teacher and coach may have parents wondering how they can protect their kids and teens from online predators.

33-year-old Steven Gasiorek is accused of posing as a young girl on Instagram to acquire nude photos from underage boys. Authorities say at least one 14-year-old boy sent Gasiorek pornographic photos through Instagram, believing he was sending them to a teenage girl using the handle LEXIGURL1015.

So what can you do to protect your kids from falling victim to predators?

The FBI Buffalo office said to have a conversation with your kids about their online friends, how they know them, and what to do if they're contacted by a stranger.

"Role play a little bit. They might think it's silly. But, I think they'll use the tips they pick up in those conversations," said FBI Buffalo Public Affairs Officer Maureen Dempsey.

The Goodwill Community Foundation says there are some free steps you can take:

1) Set up WPA security on your router. This will prevent kids from accessing the internet without permission or from an unprotected account. It will also prevent kids from using their mobile phone or tablet to get around protective controls associated with a particular computer.

2) Set a password for your router. Make it complicated and one that your kids won't be able to guess.

3) Set up an administrative account and password protect it. Then create separate user accounts for your kids that don't have those administrative privledges.

4) Both Windows and Mac OS computers allow you to set up parental controls. You can read how to set them up on a Windows computer here. On Mac OS computers you have to set up managed accounts before you can use parental controls. You can find information on how to do that here.

Finally, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is another community resource. It suggests parents wait until kids are older before allowing them to have their own account on sites like Instagram or Facebook. "We can teach them about technology. Or, they can actually teach us. But, we can't teach them to be more mature," said Buffalo Program Director, Kathy Gust.

The National Center also offers free educational seminars to schools and parent groups. For more information, call the center at 716-842-6333.