What you can do to keep your child safe online

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ILLINOIS (WAND) - Children have more ways to communicate these days - and more than ever. 

Social media is ever-changing and tough to keep up with, so how can parents make sure their children are staying safe?

Macon County Sergeant, Scott Flannery says it is very important to communicate with your children.

Flannery practices a "hands-off rule" in his own home.

"At any given moment, I can say hands off real quick, and they have to give me the phone," Flannery says.

Flannery also recommends looking at your child's friend list across all social media platforms.

"If they say, oh that's Tommy, he's from California, say well how do you know him," Flannery says. "Tommy is probably a 36-year-old guy who is starting to groom you. It's not actually at 14 year old kid."

Flannery suggests monitoring your child's behavior. He says to look for warning signs, such as your child being secretive or the reactions they show when a parent picks up their phone.

Growing Strong Sexual Assault Center routinely sends volunteers to local schools to educate students about sexual assault prevention.

Executive director Cathy Byers says they discuss internet safety and sexual abuse.

"Unfortunately the reality of it is... it's not new," Byers said. "It has been happening all along, we are just glad to see students finally telling somebody."

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