Leaders with ICAC warn Dover Intermediate School students dangers of social media

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 6:41 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Parents’ number one goal is to keep their children safe, and officers with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force said the world of social media can be a dangerous place.

Local students received tips from police for what to look out for online.

“I’m always aware of what I’m sending out there because I don’t know who can see it, just to be safe” said 11-year-old Elin Campbell, a Dover Intermediate School 5th grader.

Campbell said she is aware of what dangers lurk on social media, and kids her age use apps like Instagram and TikTok almost daily.

However, while they use them to post innocent pictures or videos, it can also be used by sexual predators or cyberbullying.

5th graders at Dover Intermediate Schools in Westlake packed the gym to get a crash course in safety from experts with the Ohio Internet Crimes against Children Task force.

Instructor Emmaleigh Welka showed the students what and who to look out for.

“Strangers do exist online and that’s how it starts for most of them, so getting a message or a Snapchat from someone they don’t know a lot of the time kids will then respond,” said Welka.

She encourages parents to keep an eye on what their kids are posting online, and to switch their accounts to private to limit who views.

“The number one thing is to think, I don’t know this person in real life, therefore I should not message them, and I should not communicate with them,” said Welka.

Although this conversation can be difficult for children so young to understand, some of this advice can go a long way in keeping them safe.

“I learned that whatever goes out there stays out there even if you delete it,” said Campbell.

Ohio ICAC will talk with Dover Intermediate School’s 6th graders next week about the dangers of the internet.