Kids online safety: Experts say lay down the law - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Kids online safety: Experts say lay down the law

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Nearly six out of ten parents say they have bought their pre-teens a cell phone, laptop, tablet, or other mobile devices.  That is according to a new study by internet and mobile security provider AVG Technologies.

The company's senior vice-president, Judith Bitterli, urges parents to help kids avoid too much time staring at a screen. "With summer approaching, it is so important," says Bitterli, "to get the kids outside. Make sure that you have rules that balance the amount of time they spend online with the amount of time they spend outside and with friends and with family."

Kids may resist, but Bitterli says that that's when you need to put your foot down.  "You may not like it, but I'm the boss of you," Bitterli suggests parents tell their kids.  "It really is for their own good.  You want children that are socially adaptable and actually understand how to communicate and interact with other children in person, not just online."

Protecting your children from inappropriate content, cyber-bullying, and predators is even more important.  AVG has plenty of advice for parents in need of help.

"First is relax," explains Bitterli.  "You know, all the other moms are in the same boat.  But secondly, educate yourself very quickly, not just about software, but also, where your children are.  Think about in the old days where we knew exactly whose house our children were playing [at] and who the parents were. You need to do the same thing. You need to look at their Facebook page, even if they protest and look at who their friends are. You need to look at their Twitter,  you need to look at their Instagram and make sure these are friends that you would actually invite into your house. Third thing, you need to make sure they're on-board controls on all their devices and yours, to make sure they don't download material that is objectionable, or get stalked, or cyber-bullied on-line. So, educate, get the right software, and have the talk with your children."

For more information on how to protect your children, parents can log on to avg.com and consult with online moderators.

FOX News contributed to this story.

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