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News Poll: Readers weigh in on web security, safety for children

News Poll: Readers weigh in on web security, safety for children


YARMOUTH, Maine—The article “Technology and Trafficking: the tick-tocking time bomb” by Elisa Mula, founder, EMD Designs Inc., and Min Kyriannis, managing director of EMD/JMK and co-president of the Women in International Security (WIIS) New York, opened our eyes to a real reality that is potentially affecting the safety and security of our children.

In this month’s New Poll, we asked readers for their thoughts on this important but seldom looked at topic that revolves around technology and your children’s online safety.

When asked, “Are you aware that nefarious people are using technology to prey children?” most (86 percent) readers said yes, with only 14 percent saying they were not aware.

It was comforting to see that 82 percent of readers are paying more attention to their children’s online activities, but 18 percent still said no or not really, which is concerning.

Of those who are monitoring their children’s online safety, readers used a number of approaches, with “readily monitor their usage” and “set parental controls” each getting 40 percent and “have access to all my children’s accounts” accounting for 20 percent.

“As a parent, you need to become more aware and involved with your children's world,” said one respondent, while another noted, “Nefarious people have targeted children for over a decade. Nothing new here.”

Regardless of your stance on the topic, as Mula pointed out in her article, in April 2020, Forbes reported that child exploitation complaints rose 106 percent and hit two million in just one month.

“According to the article, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) said the increase was recorded through a reporting system largely used by law enforcement, tech companies and social media platforms,” Mula said. “NCMEC said they are unsure if there is a direct connection to COVID-19 and the recent stay-at-home orders enforced by the government; however, they argue the idea that more people are home to report illegal imagery.”

NCMEC has also stated that predators had used the stay-at-home orders to increase their supply. “Investigators combing the Dark Web have reported in posts on various forums where such predators talk about ‘seizing the opportunity of this confinement and the increased exposure of children online as a possibility to access them and increase production of material,’” Mula noted.

As Kyriannis pointed out in the article, “Technology has essentially opened doors to criminals and traffickers without them even having to set foot into our homes. Think about how connected we are. We need to consider that we have now given these same types of connections to young, innocent minds who are still curious about the world. Instead of them becoming statistics to trafficking, let’s start changing their mindset and teaching them how to become aware in such a technological world.”

Mula added, “As security professionals, we can petition legislators and educate parents and children. As parents, it is our responsibility to make ourselves aware.”


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