Tips for keeping children safe online - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Tips for keeping children safe online

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MARATHON CO. (WAOW) - The alleged rape of a young Marathon County girl has area parents worried about the growing world of social media.

Investigators say a 12-year-old Marathon County girl met Praveen Kharb on the messaging program KIK.

The girl told investigators she talked online for months with the man and eventually agreed to meet with him.

Prosecutors say in March, Kharb came to the girl's home and sexually assaulted her.

Parents say the incident makes them concerned for their own children.

"They're young and they're susceptible to dangers out there online and you have to keep an eye on your kids," said Cole Corrigan of Stevens Point. 

The Instructional Technology Integration Specialist for the Wausau School District, Keshia Mashak, says parents can do that by using social media themselves.

"It's important that parents maybe create a page for themselves so that they can see what's going on," said Mashak.

With social media available on a variety of platforms from computers to smartphones, technology experts say it's important for parents to be aware of three main tips to help keep their children safe online.

"Become informed, talk to schools, talk to other parents, see what the expectation is that students should be currently doing on their devices," said Mashak.

She says once parents familiarize themselves with what is available online, they can then set family guidelines.

"How long students should be on the device, when it's appropriate to use it, kind of the limits of what they should be doing on it," said Mashak.

She says parents should monitor their children's online use so there's a balance of entertainment and education.

"Make sure that your technology is in an area that's visible, so that you know what your child is doing on it," said Mashak.

That's advice some parents say they plan to use at home.

"I always want an open line of communication with my children to make sure they're not in danger in any way," said Corrigan.

Mashak says other good resources about online safety can be found at commonsensemedia.org and netsmartz.org.

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