LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Children have been logging a lot more hours online since the pandemic began. Between NTI and social distancing, kids are usually spending hours in front of some type of screen doing work and research.

Dave Hatter, a father and a cybersecurity consultant with InTrust IT, warns there are people online looking to take advantage.

“Understand bad guys are out there and are lurking on these sites. They understand how to use them better than most parents do because they know it’s a conduit to kids,” said Hatter.

Hatter cites a report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation where investigators had received more than twice the usual number of tips about cybercrime targeted at children during the pandemic.

Hatter said it's tough for parents to navigate. Apps like TikTok come and go, which can make protecting children online a challenge.

“I think this is an important story. It’s important that the parents pay attention to this and understand what their kids are doing when they’re using electronic devices,” said Hatter.

Privacy settings and parental controls can play an important role. Paid parental control software like Circle or Net Nanny are effective at shielding children, but Hatter says one of the best measures a parent can take is to be engaged and ask questions about your child’s online activity.

“I think it is really important to have those conversations very early especially because the younger kids will be the least likely to assume someone isn’t who they claim to be,” said Hatter.

These talks will help your kids out a lot. They’ll have their guards up online and be able to use their own tech-savvy to avoid the pitfalls cybercriminals rely on.

Tell them to treat their interactions just like they would if we would in person. Avoid placing trust in strangers.

“Everyone on the internet is a stranger unless you physically and personally know someone,” said Hatter. “Understand what your kids are doing when they’re online. Take a look at the devices from time to time and engage them to warn them about these things,” he added.