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Few Clouds 38° Good Evening

NYPD sergeant shares tips to keep kids safe online

Kidsday reporter Rachel Smolarsky and her dad Sgt.

Kidsday reporter Rachel Smolarsky and her dad Sgt. Steven Smolarsky of the NYPD Special Victims Unit. Photo Credit: Smolarsky family

Most adults already know not to give out any personal information online, but what about kids? Personal information includes your real name, address, age, or what school you go to. Some online sources could be Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and the different computer apps that are out today.

Another source of giving away your information is video games. When kids are playing online in any multiplayer game, they can use headphones and talk to people they don’t know and give away information. Once one person gets it, they can use it to hack into your gaming system or computer.

If somebody tries to force you to tell them personal things, just say no, leave the conversation and report that person to an adult immediately. If an adult is not around, most online games and websites let you block or report the person.

My father, Sgt. Steven Smolarsky, has worked for the NYPD for 23 years, and now works in the Special Victims Unit, so I thought he would be the perfect person to ask about this.

He said: “Never give out your passwords. Do not give your cellphone number or your address to anyone. Don’t download any software without checking with your parents first. Never post any pictures of yourself without discussing it with your parents. It is important to know that people can lie to you and tell you they are something they are not. For example, a 50-year-old man can pretend to be a 12-year-old girl, and since you don’t know the truth, you should never meet someone you met online. When you are using social network sites you should use the privacy settings so that only invited people can access your information.”

He added: “I work for Special Victims and some of our investigations are crimes against children. I have seen many instances where people have used fake identities or fake online profiles to [trick] people into meeting them with intentions to harm them. So it is important to remember to always be honest with your parents and to tell them about when someone contacts you that you don’t know. If you are interested in any more information, you can go to the National Children’s Advocacy Center at”

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