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Be aware of what your child is doing online, says Alberta law enforcement

Last Updated Feb 9, 2021 at 12:19 pm MDT

A child uses computers to play video games. (CREDIT: ExplorerBob, Pixabay)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – As a way to acknowledge Safer Internet Day, the province’s law enforcement teams are asking parents and kids to be more aware of what you do online.

The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) said in 2020 its Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) had a record number of new investigations with over 2,100 intakes–an increase of more than 50 per cent from the year before.

“The pandemic has produced new standards of social engagement and digital learning,” said Supt. Dwayne Lakusta with ALERT. “But we must confront the dark reality that there is no shortage of online predators looking to exploit and harm your children.”

WATCH: Spike in online child exploitation reports

As a result of the investigations, 127 arrests were made with 399 charges laid across the entire province.

ALERT said that in order to see those numbers decrease in the future, parents need to be more aggressive when it comes to their kids’ internet use.

“Policing the internet is an impossible task,” said Sgt. Kerry Shima with ICE. “By the time our unit gets involved the offence has already happened, and that’s why we are trying to get parents to play a more proactive role in protecting their children.”

Cybersecurity expert David Shipley said you should look at some cyber monitoring tools if you have younger kids and make sure your older ones know they can talk to you about this.

“It’s unfortunate but, if you want to protect your children, being aware and paying attention to what your kids are paying attention to is critical.”

He added there are Android- and iPhone-specific guides to securing those devices and being able to make sure your kids are staying safe while online.

As part of Safer Internet Day, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection is offering a number of tips for parents and kids including supervising all online activity, reporting any suspicious chats or texts and reinforcing the notion that not everyone is who they say they are online.

Safer Internet Day is held every February as a way to raise awareness on online issues dealing from cyberbullying to online predators.

It was first recognized in Europe in 2004 and has since grown to 170 countries.