‘The predators have more prey to prey on’: FBI warns of increased risk for children plugged in online while school is out

The FBI is warning parents about predators targeting their children online while classes have moved from in-person classrooms to at-home laptops.

FBI special agent Kevin Kaufman said there is now a larger pool of potential victims for predators to go after.

He said the more children are online, the more chances predators have to go after them.

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“Predators like to befriend them, like to become friendly with them. They do it through gaming apps all the time,” Kaufman said.

Right now, he said, children are more likely to have to access the internet for online school work along with any additional game or social media time.

“The pool as you can say is much bigger with the kids being out of school. So the predators have more prey to prey on,” Kaufman said.

That's why Kaufman said parents need to be aware of what apps their kids are using, especially any apps that allow messaging.

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He said often predators try to get kids to send explicit photos, and once they have the photos will blackmail them for more or even try to meet them in person.

He recommends educating children about the dangers, and setting the restrictions to the strictest possible settings.

And, Kaufman said, most importantly supervise your children while they’re online. Also, he said, let your kids know they aren’t doing anything wrong if someone is trying to extort them for photos so they won’t be reluctant to report it to someone they trust.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.